By Aimee Winkfield

Fortune Gkpenyong having fun riding Teddy the pony

Rose Hill Regeneration (RHR) is celebrating the first year of its Big Lottery funded grant. In 2017 GreenSquare Group, with support from Oxford City Council, successfully secured nearly half a million pounds in funding to support children, young people and adults living in Rose Hill.

RHR currently supports three youth club sessions per week for children and young people aged 5-16 years. Rose Hill Junior Youth club sessions have become increasingly popular, with over 90 children attending the Wednesday afternoon session at Rose Hill Community centre. An exciting range of activities are on offer at the youth clubs including art and craft, food activities, sports, hairdressing, music and film production plus many more.

In addition, the project funds extra activities and one to one sessions for children. These include art therapy, domestic therapy animals, educational trips to museums and galleries, cooking clubs and pony handling and riding sessions. Over 80 pupils from two local schools have benefited this year.

Charlotte Marshall from Pony Pursuits, leads the pony handling sessions at the school with her ponies Teddy and Jubilee. She spoke about how therapeutic and calming these sessions can be: “Initially, the children lack confidence and are intimidated by the ponies due to their size, but as the sessions progress the children gain confidence by working together in groups, putting theory into practice. They become relaxed and really absorbed in the experience.”

Over a five-week period, children taking part learn how to behave around ponies, how to learn their body language, how to feed and lead them, how to tether them correctly and how to ride safely. The school have praised the sessions saying how they give children new opportunities, challenging them and helping to build their self-esteem. Fleur Belcher, Deputy Head Teacher at Rose Hill Primary School said: “These sessions can literally change our children’s lives. The impact on behaviour, wellbeing and mental health is huge.”

Young people aged 11- 16 have also had the opportunity to gain AQA qualifications in film-making and developed a whole range of new skills. The project encourages young people to get involved in community events and fundraising with plenty of exciting opportunities for young people coming up this year in music, sport, film, art and stewarding.

The RHR project, in partnership with the charity Aspire Oxford, also encourages adults to volunteer and pursue training and job opportunities. The project has exceeded all its targets for this sector, attracting over 50 talented volunteers to the project, and providing training for over 53 adults.

If you’re interested in hearing about the opportunities available at the RHR project or want to get your child or young person involved in the exciting activities in Rose Hill, then contact Fran Gardner: 07770324277.