How We Began – Our History
“Of course we can!” – It’s a familiar response from the founder of WindReach Farm, Sandy Mitchell, who has spent his life proving to people that with his vision, perseverance and community, nothing is insurmountable. The establishment of WindReach is a testament to this man’s determination to help others live their lives to the fullest.
Despite being diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, Sandy developed a keen interest in farming during his teen years and set about pursuing his dream of one day opening a fully-accessible farm. In 1979, Sandy acquired a farm in Ontario, where the seeds of WindReach were sown, a place where people with special needs could enjoy all aspects of farm life. After purchasing the WindReach property in 1985, the first visitors were invited for trial runs 2 years later. There were only a few animals, but the visitors loved the farm and wanted to return. The first complete season was 1988 when about 200 visitors came out. The farm had become wheelchair accessible with a nature trail and boardwalk and paving in front of the barn. In 1989, the Visitor’s Centre was officially opened and numbers really started to grow. By 1993, the farm welcomed nearly 5,000 visitors. Today, about 20,000 users access the farm’s programs throughout the year.
Already an accomplished Paralympic competitor, Sandy built the stables at WindReach Farm in 2002. He designed them to be fully accessible and meet the needs of both elite equestrian riders and pleasure riders alike. The Therapeutic Horseback Riding Program started running in 2004 and has been growing ever since. Currently, programs include a School Therapeutic Riding Program, which is open to elementary and high schools in the Durham Region, WindReach Special Needs Riding lessons, and group lessons by the Durham Therapeutic Riding Association.
Organizational Structure and Governance
In 1992, a charitable foundation was formed to ensure that Sandy’s vision would continue. Donations and grants are vital to WindReach Farm in order to maintain quality programs for our visitors and participants.
Our Charitable Registration Number is: #13454 2497 RR0001