I was privileged to be given an opportunity to share at ANZA’s Melbourne Cup Lunch Party on 1 November 2011 on how RDA has been a blessing to us. RDA, founded in 1982, provides free therapeutic horse riding lessons to children and adults with disabilities from all over Singapore.
I homeschool my three children, ages 11, 8 and 6. My youngest, Li-Ann, has Down Syndrome. When I found out that RDA could take in special needs children as young as 6 years old, I wished Li-Ann was six instantly!!! Of course, that didn’t happen! I proceeded with the necessary paperwork and x-rays and waited patiently. Finally, Li-Ann was given a chance to ride this June during their holiday lessons. All of us could not contain our excitement!! Li-Ann talked incessantly about RDA, her horse partner, Glow, the encouraging ladies and gentlemen who side walked her and not forgetting faithful Louise, who led Glow. While Li-Ann was ‘worked on’ as she rode with excellent posture on Glow, the rest of the family were armed with cameras and video cameras, scuttling around, taking shots of our beaming star in the arena, envious of the favour bestowed upon her.
After eight intensive lessons in June, Li-Ann’s gross muscles had a superb workout. Her muscle tone improved tremendously. That gave her strength to jump off my couch one day when I wasn’t home and she plunged off the side of the swimming pool while holding onto the coach’s hand. This also led to better fine motor control. As Li-Ann learnt to isolate her fingers more, she began to gain confidence in activities like Chinese action songs, playing the piano, photography and drawing. Furthermore, we have observed significant leaps in her speech and vocabulary, and her cognitive and problem solving abilities. This enabled her to be more expressive as she communicated with us and those around her.
As I gave out homemade bookmarks with Li-Ann’s drawings on them, many participants gave favourable comments, asked about Li-Ann and some even expressed their desire to support RDA personally or corporately. Many aided RDA’s cause by buying the Christmas cards and the beautifully decorated cupcakes. Not only would their generosity bless the people who receive those gifts, it would also allow Li-Ann and many others to benefit from this unique form of therapy. This would undoubtedly boost the self-esteem of the beneficiaries and enhance the quality of life of these persons and their families.
The above writeup can also be found in the November Issue of Pony Express.