Donkeys spread a little festive cheer

Manchester Donkey Sanctuary brought Santa and a donkey to Acorns Primary School in Preston to hand out presents to the pupils.'Liam meets Rusty the donkey.
Manchester Donkey Sanctuary brought Santa and a donkey to Acorns Primary School in Preston to hand out presents to the pupils.'Liam meets Rusty the donkey.
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When youngsters at a Preston school sing the words of the popular Christmas carol they have an extra special meaning.

For pupils at the Acorns special school in Preston have been tending their “own” little donkey for the past few months.

The school, in Moor Park, has been working with the Donkey Sanctuary to provide assisted therapy to the youngsters,aged from two to 11.

Donkey assisted therapy started at the school in May 2014. Since then a total of 257 children have been helped by the service, The children get excited about seeing the donkeys and the teachers have already seen improvements.

Throughout the past term, one and sometimes two donkeys, travelled to the school where the children get a chance to groom, pet and ride the rescued animals as part of a structured programme which sees the children benefit physically and emotionally.

Pauline Clarkson, acting deputy head teacher at the 67-pupil school said the project had proved a big hit, especially with youngsters on the autistic spectrum.

She said: “The children really enjoy the sessions.

“All the children get the benefits of looking after the animals and just being with them.

“Being able to touch and feel the animals is a real benefit.

“It is nice that they come to us so the children are not fazed by a different environment.

The last lesson of the term had a special meaning as Santa came along with donkey Souffle to hand out gifts to the children.

Pupils have been helping raise funds for the sanctuary by making key rings which they have sold as presents

A spokesman for the said: “It’s brilliant that we’ve been able to expand our service to new schools including Acorns Primary School because they really wanted the service but couldn’t travel to us because it was too far.”

The Donkey Sanctuary aims to expand its donkey assisted therapy service to new schools and residential homes countrywide as part of its vision for a world where donkeys and mules live free from suffering, and where their contribution to humanity is fully valued.