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Meet Jo Hayward – Accessibility Mark Co-Ordinator

12 October 2018

Here we meet Jo Hayward, Co-Ordinator for the Accessibility Mark scheme that helps riding schools gain a recognised accreditation to provide lessons for disabled riders.

Q. Tell me about your role as the Accessibility Mark Co-Ordinator.

A. My role is mainly administration of the project. As well as promoting the accreditation to new centres and dealing with general enquiries and queries, we are always looking for ways to improve the support and training that the centres are offered. Part of my role is to develop these ideas and put them into practice with help from the Accessibility Support Officers (ASO’s).

Q. Where are you based?

A. I am based at the Riding for the Disabled Association’s (RDA) national office which is in Warwick.

Q. What is the best part of your job?

A. I am passionate about horses and riding as it has always been a big part of my life. I love knowing that I am doing something that increases the opportunities for others to get involved in the sport.

Q. Have you been involved in Accessibility Mark since the beginning of the project?

A. Lizzie Hill developed the project from the beginning and I came on-board following the two year pilot period to cover Lizzie’s maternity leave. We now work on the project together, with Lizzie acting as one of Accessibility Mark’s most experienced ASO’s.

Q. Is Accessibility Mark a team effort between you and the ASO’s?

A. Definitely! The ASO’s go out and visit the centres, assessing suitability and providing the training so are more the face of Accessibility Mark. They are also constantly available to the centres to provide advice. I am more behind the scenes collating the paperwork and trying to support the ASO’s in their role.

Q. How do you think Accessibility Mark has evolved since it started as a pilot project in 2014?

A. The aims of the project are still the same but I think the training and support that are given to the centres is much better. We ask for feedback from our centres and work on the areas where they feel they would like more support and help.

Q. 2019 marks the 50th Anniversary of the RDA – do you think Accessibility Mark is a good reflection on how the RDA has challenged stereotypes of disability sport?

A. Yes I do, Accessibility Mark has made equestrian sport more accessible and the centres themselves are challenging the perception of disability sport by being opening and welcoming to people with disabilities.

Q. Do you have any experience yourself of coaching?

A. Yes, I am a Pony Club Level 3 coach and am about to start on the journey to become an RDA coach, which I am very excited about. This will also help me better understand the challenges faced by all Accessibility Mark centres.

Q. What do you like to do in your spare time?

A. I have my own horse and like competing for my local riding club. I have recently bought a new three-year-old horse who I am looking forward to producing, as I enjoy working with novice horses, seeing them progress and develop.

Accessibility Mark is primarily aimed at British Horse Society, Association of British Riding Clubs and Pony Club approved centres. To find out more about becoming an Accessibility Mark centre contact Jo Hayward on 01926 476300 or email am@rda.org.uk

The Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA), in partnership with the British Equestrian Federation (BEF), launched the revolutionary Accessibility Mark scheme to work with riding centres with the aim of opening up more opportunities for disabled people to participate in riding.

There are currently 52 Accessibility Mark-approved centres across the country.

To find your nearest RDA Group or Accessibility Mark centre visit www.rda.org.uk

In other news: Research conducted by Get Yourself Active and the University of Birmingham reaches nearly one hundred and fifty participants.

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