Rotary Club supports special needs rider

Rotary Club Estoi Palace International (RCEPI) is again supporting Riding for the Disabled Algarve (AEDA) by sponsoring a young rider with special needs in training for the Special Olympics in Portugal.

Irina Rodrigues is 14 and was born with cerebral palsy and hemiplegia, affecting the right-hand side of her body.

For her regular physiotherapy sessions she is registered with APPC, the cerebral palsy association in Faro.

Irina loves horses and started riding therapy at eight years of age. This helps those with physical and mental disabilities to develop their motor skills, raise their self-esteem, increase sensory awareness, and concentration. It also helps to promote physical perception, improve muscle tone and develop communication and cognitive skills. The main aim for Irina is to use the motivation she has through the riding to encourage her to study and improve her skills, including learning another language, all to help in her adult life.

Irina joined the riding therapy sessions organised by AEDA in February 2016 coming with the APPC to Pinetrees Riding Stables. She quickly moved to the Adapted Sport Riding Level. In the last two years, AEDA and Pinetrees have worked with the AAPACDM, school for the mentally disabled in Faro, who are the promoters of Special Olympics Portugal.

Last May the 2nd Special Olympics Equitation for the South was held at Pinetrees enabling the Algarve riders to earn a place to compete at the June national event in Lisbon. The riders, representing a variety of schools for the disabled and riding schools in the Algarve, picked up most of the top medals at the event!

Irina was the highest-placed rider overall comparing first and second level classes. Her goal now is to pass on to the third level class and earn the chance to possibly represent Portugal abroad in Special Olympics, destined primarily for athletes with learning difficulties.

RCEPI contributes towards Irina’s ongoing therapy with a €300 sponsorship to enable her to train in order to compete.

For further information on Rotary Club Estoi Palace International, email [email protected] or visit and for AEDA contact Rosemary Owen on 964 027 677.