In Ireland it is estimated that approximately 9,000 young people leave school early each year. The increased need for successful interventions have resulted in the design of many non-traditional approaches to engaging youths with challenging behaviours. In an attempt to encourage young people back into education and develop psychological skills, many alternative programmes are gaining popularity. For instance, a growing number of professional services are integrating equine-assisted activities into their programmes, including school completion services, social, youth and mental health workers and probation officers.*

Situated approximately 5 miles away from Dublin’s centre, Cherry Orchard is classed as an area of deprivation. In 2003, the Cherry Orchard Equine, Education and Training Centre was opened to tackle the long-standing range of issues surrounding unemployment and a lack of training that is prevalent in the local area. Through an integrated approach, the centre provides a variety of services including training for British Horse Society qualifications, a Stay in School programme, and a Garda Youth Diversion project. Approximately 600 young people visit the centre each week. Working on the ingrained affinity for horses found in the local community, the centre aims to engage young people in equine-assisted activities to gain skills and training, which are beneficial for their future.

*Emma Sarah Keogh

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