Thursday 18 December 2014

Donkeys find new home helping autistic children

Stephen Maguire

Published 25/07/2014 | 02:30

Danny Curran (centre) meets Daniel and Ingela Reinholdsson, Patrike Sármens and Monica Andersson when they arrived to choose donkeys to take back to Sweden Also pictured are Sandra Curran and Elsa Curran.

A SWEDISH businesswoman's plan to help children with autism has saved three abandoned Irish donkeys and could result in many more being rehomed.

Monika Andersson owns a 300-acre equestrian centre in Nykoping on the outskirts of Stockholm.

She came up with the idea of opening a specialist area at the centre to work with children with autism. However, she was worried that horses may not be suitable for children with special needs.

Monika and her family opted to use donkeys instead but with just 400 or so donkeys in all of Sweden, they didn't have a lot of choice.

In stepped ex-pat Charles McSweeney-O'Rourke, who is originally from Ardara in Co Donegal, but now lives in Sweden and is friendly with the Andersson family. The Donegal Donkey Sanctuary was contacted and a visit was duly arranged. On Monday, Ms Andersson visited Ireland and chose three donkeys to ship to Sweden from Donegal.

Danny Curran of the Donegal Donkey Sanctuary, which cares for more than 60 donkeys at its centre in Raphoe, said he hoped it was the start of a wonderful relationship.

"Donkeys have a lovely nature and I have often seen children with autism hugging them and building up a special bond with them," said Danny.

Irish Independent

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