Our mission

Our mission is to achieve a real inclusion, more equal opportunities, better quality of life for people, who have special needs.


The European Commission supported this project financially, through the Lifelong Learning Programme, Grundtvig Learning Partnerships, it lasted from August  2013 until July 2015.

This project involved organisations from seven European Union countries who, as a learning partnership, shared the experiences and tools developed in each partner organisation, to support the use of animal assisted therapy with people with diverse needs and disabilities. All partners involve animals in therapeutic intervention although some partners have more significant and structured programmes than others. We all recognize that involving animals can be a valuable element of the services we provide and we hope that by sharing it with others, we will encourage the spread of interesting and rewarding animal assisted therapies.

The objectives of the partnership were:

1. To find the best experiences and tools used in Europe in work with animals for the development of people with disabilities

2. To prepare educational materials (handbook, films) that could be used by professionals to improve their work with Animal Assisted Therapies and/ or Animal Assisted Activities

3. To make the results of the partnership available not only to the partner organisations, but to the professionals and the public in Europe and potentially beyond

Animal therapies are a relatively new way of working with disabled people and often, professionals face a lack of information and support or training materials. We hope this project helps to fill this need and provide ideas and methods, both to the project participants and to other professionals in Europe and beyond. We acknowledge that there are different ways of providing therapeutic support and we do not endorse any particular methods.

The use of dolphins in therapy is considered controversial by some and Doctor Brigita Kreiviniene from the Lithuanian Sea Museum, one of our partners in this project, discusses some of the research and knowledge around this in Appendix Two, we suggest that everyone should do their own research to come to a view on this.

We have extracted the most important and the best methods and experiences to create this small handbook and some short films for those that want to work in this field. We are concentrating on Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT), a more rigorous approach using trained therapists and Animal Assisted Interventions (AAI) using more informal activities and approaches.

People with disabilities have been involved in planning and delivering the project at all stages. The partnership organized transnational meetings, seminars and conferences with experts from the Third Sector and organisations specialising in Animal Assisted Therapies (AAT) and Animal Assisted Interventions (AAI) and visits to institutions and organisations working in this field in the partner countries. We also involved local students, specialists and other stakeholders.

We have made the results available to as many people as possible, through web-based www.grundtvigpat1.jimdo.com and regular dissemination channels such as meetings, information and memo releases, press releases and events.

Sharing learning across the project has brought and will continue to bring benefits to people with disabilities who are in need of effective support to help reduce isolation and support development and active citizenship.



1.    C.E.E. Dr. Fernando Arce (Torrelavega-Cantabria, Spain)


C.E.E. Dr. Fernando Arce is a private special education school in Torrelavega (Cantabria), an industrial town of 65,000 inhabitants in the north of Spain. We have 11 units  (1 child education, 7 Compulsory Basic Education, 1 Transition to Adulthood and 2 Initial Vocational Training programmes in our special workshop), with a total of 90 students aged 3 to 25 years. We have a range of different services including transport, residence, speech therapy, physiotherapy, social work and counselling provided by a team of 15 teachers, 5 caregivers, two speech-therapists, one physiotherapist, one counsellor and one social worker.


2.    Jó Úton-Lóháton Alapítvány (Szentes, Hungary)


Our mission is to achieve real inclusion, more equal opportunities and better quality of life for people who have special needs. Our organisation gives opportunities to children, young people and adults with special needs to benefit and develop through horse therapy. We sponsor our riders so that they can take part in special festivals and competitions. We accompany and support them all during these activities, aspiring to popularise disability sport, healthy living and caring for animals. Additionally, we organise summer camps, meetings and workshops for families, specialists and volunteers. We also train adults in supporting people with disabilities to assist our organisation.

We provide our adult trainees with a motivating environment - children who need help, a stable with animals and a very cooperative group of staff - that improves their self-confidence and communication skills and strengthens their awareness.

We are one of 70 centres worldwide – the only one in Hungary - who have staff trained, certified and licensed by SpiritHorse International. SpiritHorse International has developed the only specific methods in the therapeutic riding industry to date. It provides monitoring of quality and continuing training for all licensees.


3.    Asociatia Partes (Baia Mare, Romania)


Partes is a very young association made by professionals working in the field of social services. Most of them have many years of experience working with people with disabilities.

Partes  was created to  support as to stimulate the participation off the citizens in the life of the community through social responsibility, civic participation, and social cohesion.

The organization cooperates very closely with the Esperando Association, bringing solutions and activities that can improve the life off the individuals who have disabilities or special needs. 

The present project is also made in cooperation with Esperando Association and the animal assisted interventions and therapies are offered to the children and youth who are coming Esperando. They have also been involved in the project mobilities and activities, including the project meetings.

Our intention is to develop in the future the activities and the opportunities that will improve the lives of people with disabilities and also to involve the community in such activities and to make room heart people with disabilities in the community. Both the community and the people with special needs can benefit from the active participation off these people in the life and activities of the community. 


4.    Centro interventi assistiti con gli animali olistico (C.I.A.O.) “La Tela di Carlotta” (Schio-Vicenza, Italy)


This association’s objectives are to deepen the knowledge and improve the training and application of educational and psychological treatments in the educational, re-educational and therapeutic fields. We carry out studies and research and organise training in the field of Assisted Animal Interventions (AAI) better known as Pet Therapy, referring to the therapeutic fields (AAT), educational fields (AAE), recreational fields (AAA) with the aim of disseminating valuable research and experience. We raise awareness and disseminate knowledge of AAI through conferences, seminars and debates. We collaborate with public and private bodies, associations, cooperatives, public administrations and private and public enterprises in Italy and abroad.


5.    Equilibre NGO (Roosna-alliku parish, Estonia)


Equilibre is developing riding therapy as a psycho-social approach. We have formed an official partnership with a local hospital, our therapist is part of their rehabilitation team as a psychological counsellor/riding therapist and most of our clients come through the hospital rehabilitation plan. Our main target group is children with emotional-behavioural problems and their parents – usually depressed and often with severe burn out symptoms. Also some of our clients are children with autism and some have learning disabilities.


6.    Lithuanian Sea Museum (Klaipėda, Lithuania)


Lithuanian Sea Museum is a governmental organization and have provided dolphin assisted therapy for people with special needs since 2001. From 2003 to 2006, collaborating with Klaipėda Seamen's Hospital and Klaipėda University, we launched biomedical research to investigate the impact of dolphin assisted therapy for children with autism. From 2007 to 2011 we investigated the reactions of families' raising children with severe cerebral palsy to dolphin assisted therapy. Each year, collaborating with NGOs, Klaipėda University and Klaipėda Seamens’ Hospital, we organise animal assisted therapeutic activities for people with various disabilities.

Dolphin assisted therapy is science-based with a health-orientation. The methodology was created after the first scientific research in collaboration with variety of professionals: social workers, doctors, a rehabilitologist, a psychiatrist and a psychologist. An individual program is run by Dr. Brigita Kreivinienė (Klaipėda University, Health Faculty) who created her own methodology. The scientific consultant is Prof. dr. Mindaugas Rugevičius (Klaipėda University, Faculty of Pedagogy). Specialists working with children and adults are: dolphin trainer, social worker, psychologist and physiotherapist. An individual programme is constructed for each participant based on their personal needs, additional educational programs are organised in the dolphin assisted therapy centre including sandplay, art activities, sensory integration, dance and drama. Self-supporting parental groups are organized based on need. Students and specialists can take internships, courses and other training programmes. Our participants are usually between 5 and 15 years old, however, special programmes are organised for adults with mental disabilities. Each year special group therapy sessions take place for people that are at risk. From 2001 participants included children and adults with diagnoses including autism, Asperger syndrome, Down's syndrome, cerebral palsy, Landau Clefner syndrome, emotional disturbances, enuresis, child victims of sexual exploitation and women with post natal depression.


7.    Red2Green (Turning the Red Lights Green). (Cambridge, United Kingdom)


This institution provide opportunities for people with disabilities and disadvantage in Cambridgeshire so that they can reach their own goals, 32 staff and 50 volunteers support over 300 people. 


We provide innovative, personal and achievable opportunities in a safe environment. We work with partners, both national and local, who share our concern for our clients and their futures. We strive to break down barriers and remove ignorance and fear, so our clients can achieve their ambitions and enjoy their lives. Aspirations provides a social learning programme for adults with autistic spectrum conditions. Options provides stimulating social and development opportunities for people with profound learning disabilities. People take part in activities such as drama, computing, swimming, cookery, Tai Chi and community visits. Although we don’t have our own animals, clients in both services get great value from times when we are able to offer activities involving animals. Additionally we have Health for Life supporting people with mental illness, Advance providing job skills coaching and we provide practical horticultural experience for young people at Anglesey Abbey.



Website: http://grundtvigpat1.jimdo.com/link/.

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/grundtvig.pat.5.

Blog: http://grundtvigprojectpat.blogspot.com.es/.


Jó Úton - Lóháton Alapítvány