The weather continues to be amazing in Ireland and we are having so much fun welcoming our clients back to the Riding School, and getting to see the team from Saol Anois and Transition programmes! We're all experts in social distancing and hand hygiene, and so proud of how all our clients have been adjusting to the 'new normal'.
Check out some photos of what we've all been up to!
We were thrilled to be able to reopen to the public here at Festina Lente on 18 May, although it's not quite business as usual!
We're thrilled to be offering lessons and equestrian experiences to our regular clients, with clear guidance around social distancing and hand hygiene. We are only running private lessons with individuals, and our term lessons are limited to 4 riders at a time who can mount unassisted. We're also running a whole range of stable management and supported helper lessons, so more of our clients can get their pony fix in a safe and hygienic way. It is truly delightful seeing happy faces back in the yard and our horses and ponies are loving all the extra attention! At this point the yard is unfortunately not open to the general public - only booked clients can enter the yard. This is to keep the number of people moving through the space as low as possible to help keep us all safe.
Our Gardens are full of life at the moment, with allotment holders champing at the bit to tend their patches! We have developed a timetable for our allotment holders so there's always plenty of space for them to work safely. They're also supplying their own tools and keeping taps and hands clean. Our Garden Shop is open to the public with plants for sale, and we have a one person rule in operation there. We're also delighted to have our beautiful Walled Garden open to the public so feel free to come along for some relaxation in nature.
The Services team have been working tirelessly to keep connections strong amongst our Service users and have become amazingly skilled at Zoom classes! However there's nothing like meeting face to face, so the team are really enjoying being able to meet with individual clients outdoors. They've developed some careful protocols around hand hygiene and social distancing to keep everyone safe, and are meeting in parks and outdoor spaces to make the most of the glorious weather!
We're all delighted to have our staff back on site and getting to see people enjoying our horses, gardens and services. If you need any more information about visiting Festina Lente, please see our website: festinalente.ie/covid-19-update-12-may-2020/
Holly from the Saol Anois team has done some brilliant work creating a short film for her college work. She's generously shared it with us to share with you all - we hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
The Saol Anois team have been around the world in their recent Zoom sessions! Our regular You Take Lead session had a distinctly international flavour this week, with Mieke teaching us some Dutch, and Julianne sharing her story of representing Ireland at the Special Olympics in Cyprus.
Mieke took the lead first, teaching us some key words in her first language of Dutch! She covered the basics of greetings, some common phrases, numbers and words, and was really clear and helpful. Dutch has many different sounds to English, and Mieke noted she found it challenging learning English for the first time! While the class found it a challenge to get the pronunciation right, everyone was really interested in learning this new skill, and were all impressed at the work Mieke had put in to create a slideshow with pictures and words. Thanks Mieke!
Julianne then followed with an amazing story about her trip to Cyprus, representing Ireland at the Special Olympics! Julianne competed in bowling, and while she found travelling on her own a bit nerve-wracking, she found the experience incredibly rewarding. Everyone loved her story of the captain on their flight to Cyprus announcing the news over the intercom and having the whole plane applaud! Well done to both Mieke and Julianne for a really interesting session together.
The Men's Group also shared stories of an international flavour in their session this week. The group shared where they'd been on holidays around the world, and the spread was incredible! For next week, each member picked a country to do some research on, to share with the class next week.
We can't wait to hear more!
The Saol Anois team have continued their amazing online programmes, and recently Bernadette shared her experiences with the rest of the team through the You Take Lead programme. As we've mentioned before, this session gives one of the group the opportunity to share their passions and skills with everyone, with the outcome of improved self esteem and new insights into each team member! Bernadette is currently studying a Level 5 course in Care of the Older Person, while also volunteering in a rest home. She shared an amazing presentation with the group, and shared what encouraged her to follow this pathway and how she was inspired to work with people suffering from dementia.
Bernadette shared with the group information about the signs and symptoms of dementia, the different types that can affect people, and how the illness affects family and friends of the sufferer.
Bernadette is really passionate about what she does, and presented the group with really interesting information. Lots of great questions were asked.
Thank you Bernadette for such an interesting and thought provoking discussion!
Our students are exploring their creativity while in lockdown, and we are so impressed with how dedicated they've been at learning new things and developing skills. Gillian Keane of the Saol Anois programme has shared with us her account of learning drawing skills with her Dad. We hope you enjoy finding out about her amazing new skills!
I started a beginners course from my dad Alan, he teaches people to draw from photo portraits. The first drawing I drew was [from] a photo of a model I don’t know of. It was a photo my dad chose as he thought it would be more basic to start off with. I never knew the skills I had until I started to get guidance and techniques of how to draw in so many different detailed ways. When I was able to do the first drawing I was happy and had not known the skill I had. I felt a sense of fulfilment and wanted to learn more.
THE DRAWING OF MANUS
I have known Manus for a long time. He was a great, peaceful, calm and caring horse that I was very fond of and was a great companion to me. I chose this photo because the [higher] quality a photo is, the better it would be to draw. I had thought a grey horse would be hard to draw because I thought that the hair would be hard to draw, so challenged myself to draw that. With my dad's direction of techniques, I would be able to try find where to start by drawing from the photo.
THE UTENSILS I USED
I printed the two photos out in black and white to get the different shading and detail of the photo. I had a grid on the photo from 1 to 12 in length and A to H to help with where to start first. I used a hb pencil, a 2b and a 4b pencil for the different shading. I used a tissue to blend the shades together. I used a cotton bud to blend the smaller parts of the detailed shades. I used the kneadable eraser to knead in to shape to the smallest details and erase some detail that didn’t need to much darkness in the drawing.
Well done Gillian, and thank you for sharing your amazing learning!
The Saol Anois team have recently had some really exciting news - their application for funding through the Erasmus+ programme was approved! Spearheaded by Saol Anois team member Gianluca Stroppi, this project aims to investigate ways to empower people living with disabilities to find meaningful employment. The project will be participant-led, using the experiences and opinions of young people with disabilities seeking employment.
The project plans to involve 16 young people from three countries - Ireland, the United Kingdom and Italy. All participants have disabilities, and have experienced employment and job seeking in their lives. The programme aims to develop a new approach in supported employment for themselves and others in a similar position, as currently unemployment rates for people with disabilities is still high. Difficulties encountered in finding employment can lead to a sense of disempowerment and prevent perseverance with what can be a very challenging task. By working together and with facilitators, the participants on this programme will be active contributors to all stages of the project, and will experience three different approaches from the three different countries involved. . In Ireland, they will participate in focus groups about the employment of people with disabilities. Each participant will have the chance to share their past experiences and give suggestions for a new approach. During the week in the United Kingdom, each participant will access one of the three Employment Pathways proposed by the Swiss Cottage School and have the chance to discuss their thoughts on this process. In Italy, the participants will engage in a workshop about work related 'soft skills' where they will learn about the importance of these skills in future employment and practice them to reinforce their learning.
With both international travel and the chance to meet new people facing similar challenges, we hope all the participants will find this a really rewarding experience. The overall aim of the project is to learn more about how to best support people with disabilities in finding meaningful employment, with the development of guidelines for providing this support.
Well done to the whole team for such a great effort in getting this approved! We look forward to updating on the project once it kicks off, provisionally due to begin in November 2020.
A breeze to work with and a favourite amongst staff and students, handsome Breeze is a long-standing member of Festina Lente's equine team! He was offered to us as a 6 year old (he's now 18!) by one of the riding school team at the time. She owned him and thought he'd make a wonderful addition to our equine squad. As we always do, we took Breeze on a two week trial to ensure he'd fit in - which he absolutely did!
Breeze is 13.2 hands high, and is piebald in colour. This odd name simply means his coat is irregular patches of black and white. He also has an adorable pink nose - somewhat unfortunately for him, this means he has to wear sunscreen on it summer!
Breeze is a true all-rounder, and takes part in a huge range of equestrian activities. He's a regular in lessons for both beginner and more experienced riders, is a solid and dependable mount for our therapeutic riding lessons, and is cared for by the students in our Supported Helper programme. His lovely nature and good looks make him a super popular pony with all his riders and our staff.
The Saol Anois team continue their online learning apace, with a particularly interesting You Take Lead session taking place this week! Gillian and Una presented two very different sessions, both really interesting and with amazing presentations to match.
Gillian presented a fascinating discussion about corn snakes, as she has one as a pet! While some of the class found it a little terrifying, others asked really interesting questions. Gillian told the class all about where corn snakes come from, their favourite food (mice...delicious!) and how she carefully cares for the snake. The class were fascinated, particularly when she took the snake out to hold it! Corn snakes have beautiful skin and everyone was delighted to hear Gillian's expertise.
Next up was Una, who led the class through a fascinating talk about healthy eating. She explained the healthy eating triangle to everyone, and provided really useful tips as to what foods in each category would be good choices for both meat eaters and vegetarians alike. She made a particularly important point about the high levels of sugars hidden in some foods - something for us all to be aware of. Una also made the very good point that 'clean eating' and sticking too closely to a rigid idea of what is healthy and unhealthy could lead to problems also. Being too strict on yourself can detrimentally affect your mental health, so Una noted that it's essential to have some treats occasionally!
Well done to both Gillian and Una - two amazing talks about very different, but equally fascinating topics. Until next time...
At the moment, families all over Ireland are getting stuck in to cooking and baking, making amazing meals together and learning new skills. The Transition Training Programme students are no different - they've been learning how to cook up a storm at home!
In their most recent class, Deirdre provided a cooking demonstration via Zoom making a classic quesadilla. These tasty toasted wraps originally come from Mexico, and one of the best things about them is how the fillings can be changed to suit! Deirdre's version suggests a wholemeal wrap with cheese, pesto and salad fillings which is a filling and delicious lunch. Deirdre talked through each step of making these tasty treats, from chopping up the salad ingredients and grating the cheese, right through to toasting the quesadilla in a pan to achieve the perfect level of melty cheese. The group also discussed different utensils and how they're used, adding to the skills toolkit of the students.
The Transition Training Programme students now have a great lunch option to share with their families, that's healthy, filling and delicious. We can't wait until their next cooking challenge!