The economic fallout from Covid-19 and the various measures enacted to prevent spread of the virus has caused many equestrian facilities to struggle. Traditional riding schools have been one area of the horse industry severely impacted, trailing riding is another ‒ now we’re learning about WindReach Farm in Ontario, which is also feeling the financial strain.
WindReach is a fully-accessible farm that provides programs and services to individuals with intellectual, physical and mental health challenges. “Obviously, the pandemic has had a significant financial impact on the farm. Without programs running and generating revenue, it is challenging to scrape together the funds to feed the animals and pay the bills to keep the property in a ready state for programs to one day return to full capacity,” says Ross Ste-Croix, the farm’s executive director.
The farm has been providing its special brand of services for over a quarter of a century to individuals, families and agencies ‒ basically, whomever needs their special brand of help. Multiple programs have been created to fulfil the farm’s mission and include therapeutic riding, summer camps, community outreach and supporting those with mental health issues, as well as women’s shelters in Ontario. The founder was Sandy Mitchell MBE, who was born with cerebral palsy and was a three-time equestrian Paralympian; unfortunately, he passed away two years ago.
“We are slowly easing programs back as restrictions gradually lift in the Region of Durham. Currently, we are offering riding lessons for riders that can either ride independently or provide their own side walkers [if needed],” says Ste-Croix. “We have re-opened our Community Participation Program, where individuals with disabilities come to the farm and assist with caring for the animals. We are also scheduling private visits and small group visits at this time. We hope to open things up further when the Region enters Phase 3.” He also adds that while they have a lot of clients excited to return, there are also those who remain wary without a vaccine.
The Ford government announced that Durham region would be entering phase 3 the week of July 20th, which should have a positive effect on WindReach. But being forced to close down during those early months of the pandemic created a financial burden. To ease the economic struggle, WindReach created a GoFundMe campaign called #LegacyForHope. As of this writing the campaign has raised $22,550 of its $300,000 goal. Any size of donation is welcome and you will receive a charitable tax receipt.
For a full list of WindReach Farm’s programs visit their website here.
If you’d like to donate to the GoFundMe Campaign you can do that here.