Windsor-Essex Therapeutic Riding Association

WETRA receives Ontario150 Community Capital Program Funding to pave accessible parking spaces

 

 

By Jolene Perron

 

A grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation has allowed a local therapeutic riding association to pave accessible parking spaces for their clients.

Since the new facility was built in 2011, the gravel parking lot has posed many restrictions and hardships on the number of people the Windsor-Essex Therapeutic Riding Association services each week. When the facility was built, they ensured a portico was build so their clients families could pull up underneath it and drop off their client, however if there happen to be several families coming through at once, the portico got very congested, and staff noted the harsh winter conditions often made the gravel parking lot incredibly treacherous.

“The Ontario 150 Community Capital Program’s contribution to the project will allow over 200 people served here each week to safely park and exit their vehicles without the barrier of stones underneath walkers and wheelchairs as well as provide stability under foot for all who enjoy our equine therapy services,” explained Becky Mills, managing director, CTR11 and Path Intl., and certified instructor. “Our facility brings together volunteers, riders, caregivers and community members every day, and the new parking spaces will add a more inviting element to our center.”

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak (far left) was on hand to celebrate WETRA's recent Ontario Trillium Foundation grant that was used for parking lot upgrades.

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak (far left) was on hand to celebrate WETRA’s recent Ontario Trillium Foundation grant that was used for parking lot upgrades.

WETRA was founded in 1963 by Dr. Elmer Butt in Windsor. Mills explained he was a local radiologist and operated out of a small facility on five acres in Windsor, which is where WETRA remained until 2011. Once they had the opportunity to move into a new building and create a facility of 72 acres of land in the county, it was a no brainer. Since their build, they have been focusing on one project at a time.

“It’s amazing how accessibility can be granted by just a little bit of cement and lift the barrier the gravel driveway presented,” said Essex MPP Taras Natyshak. “For you to recognize that and to put together a plan with the Ontario Trillium Foundation, and your donors and volunteers, that goes a long way to ensure that this facility is accessible and puts your at the top as being champions in accessibility.”

Just 14,000 square feet of space was paved, and considering the overall size of their parking lot, Mills said it might not look like much but it came with a total price tag of $36,000. Of that, $26,000 was grant money and the additional $10,000 was raised through WETRA’s numerous initiatives such as selling t-shirts out of their facility.

The organizations services approximately 69 different diagnoses of people, and they are incredibly excited to have the opportunity to make accessibility easier for their clients.

“It’s the most rewarding job, I think,” said Mills. “I just get so much enjoyment and reward out of it. Even though I don’t get to be in the thick of the program the way I used to be as the head instructor, I’m away from that now, but I know this is a very vital part of the program and I still feel it’s very rewarding.”

WETRA raises funds for programs in “spooktacular” fashion

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Windsor-Essex Therapeutic Riding Association (WETRA) raised some cash recently and had a spooky time doing it.

WETRA held its annual “Halloween Spooktacular on the Farm” recently at its location near McGregor. Becky Mills, managing director at WETRA, said they were looking to have a family-friendly event 12 years ago and the idea was developed.

“We provide activities with the horses,” she said, noting WETRA assists those with disabilities.

Gracie Mills and her horse Toby prepare to enter the barn. They were both dressed for the “Halloween Spooktacular on the Farm” that was presented by WETRA.

Gracie Mills and her horse Toby prepare to enter the barn. They were both dressed for the “Halloween Spooktacular on the Farm” that was presented by WETRA.

The “Halloween Spooktacular on the Farm” allowed children without disabilities to have a turn on WETRA’s horses, enjoy face painting, magic shows, balloon animals and other activities and even get some fire safety tips from Essex firefighters, as WETRA is located on North Malden Road, just east of Walker Road.

WETRA’s programs also include carriage driving and vocational work on the farm for those with disabilities.

“This is the biggest fundraiser all year,” said Mills.

The event usually brings in over $20,000 and sees over 2,000 people attend during the two days.

“We’re always trying to change it up a little bit and keep it new and fresh,” she said, adding the Headless Horseman is a popular attraction they do not change.

Magic shows were also part of the Windsor-Essex Therapeutic Riding Association’s “Halloween Spooktacular on the Farm.”

Magic shows were also part of the Windsor-Essex Therapeutic Riding Association’s “Halloween Spooktacular on the Farm.”

Children from around the area attended with their parents and grandparents with many of the kids dressed in costume.

“We utilize about 70 volunteers per night,” said Mills. “Obviously without them, we couldn’t put on the event or do our programming.”

WETRA sees roughly 200 people use its programs each week with the volunteers a key part of that. Mills said people come from Amherstburg, Essex, LaSalle and Kingsville and even as far as Belle River and Leamington.

While the “Halloween Spooktacular on the Farm” is their biggest fundraiser, it is far from their only event. Mills said seven events have been held at WETRA this year.