These ideas belong to the whole RDA group.
What is the organization about and what is its purpose?
From the RDA Singapore website:
RDA Singapore was founded in 1982, with just 5 riders and a whole lot of heart. Since then, more than 6,000 disabled children and adults have experienced the benefits of the therapy that our horses and ponies so lovingly provide.
RDA Singapore is a registered charity and Institution of a Public Character (IPC); UEN No: S82SS0081H. Since our inception in 1982, we have provided equine-assisted therapy (hippotherapy) to more than 6,000 physically and mentally disabled beneficiaries. We have seen beneficiaries who can sit up longer, walk unaided or who have become more sociable after riding with RDA Singapore. These may seem like minor achievements to most able-bodied people, but to those with disabilities, these are life-changing feats.
Good health and well being:
- The effect of being with an animal is very soothing especially for a person who doesn’t understand the society they are in right now.
- The way we communicate with animals
- Nonverbal; creates a common ground. Some children have challenges communicating with other people. If you are on a horse, that doesn’t matter. Verbal communication becomes less important.
- The activity that helps the children strengthen their bodies, exercising their muscles, eg core muscles. If someone is sitting in a wheelchair all day, getting on a horse and keeping your back straight is an important exercise.
- Riding a horse isn’t a common opportunity, the fact that they get to experience that, as well as having measures taken to cater to their disabilities reduces their stigmas of their own disabilities
- Brings different ethnicities into the same room, reduces conflict and brings communities together, focusing on one goal. Breaking down the expat vs local communities. Abolishes possible stigmas.
- We live our lives different to those we work with, and through this, we are raising awareness and learning and educating ourselves.
- RDA: Horse riding for free; helping them engage in this activity that would otherwise be beyond their financial reach.
What we gain from RDA:
- Reciprocal relationships: getting to know people outside your community, enhances and shapes interpersonal skills.
- Getting to know more about different disabilities and breaks any barriers.
- Working out how to change your sentence structures in order to have a strong conversation with your rider
- Creates a solid bond with your rider
- Getting us to think about goal settings; giving us an agenda and structure to the sessions
Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) is a non-profit organization which aims to help disabled children with free horse riding therapy. So far, I have been working in RDA as a volunteer for 3 months, and the experience is valuable and amazing for me.
In RDA, horses have their own name. We do not treat them as animals but friends. The picture above is a selfie of me and my favorite partner Casper in my second session. Casper is a little bit grumpy at the beginning of that session. But he calmed down after I padded him gently.
What really inspires me is the process of friendship building between me and a little boy. To protect his privacy, I will just call him “the boy” in this reflection. The first impression he gave me was skinny and introverted. In fact, he is one of the skinniest boys I have ever seem. The boy has a pair of big black eyes which reminds me of my younger brother. The sense of familiarity made me feel very close to this strange boy. My friend and I worked as sidewalkers when the boy was riding. Our job is to talk to him and to help him do some activities like stretch his body. But sadly, things did not go very well. Whatever my partner Judy and I did to try to interact with him, the boy just kept being silent. The constant ignorance by the boy frustrated us a little bit. Later, we started to play games with him. We gave him a ball and asked him to throw it to one of us, and we threw it back to him. The boy showed great interest in this activity had a big smile on his face. After the session, we told Erika, the person in charge of RDA, that the boy liked throwing balls a lot. Erika said in this case, she would provide this activity more often for the boy. I was very touched by the fact that the boy said “thank you” to the horse he rode on. I believe he is not as reluctant as he seems. It turned out that my intuition was one hundred percent correct. After some weeks of this therapy, the boy finally started to talk about himself with us. He did not talk a lot, but these words were valuable information for me to know him further. I think the boy is not confident enough and he feels disadvantaged because of his physical condition. I said a lot of encouraging words to him. I want to let him understand that physical condition is not his restriction. Physical condition is something hard to be changed, but the mindset is not. Perspective is powerful, sometimes we just need to see things from different angles. If you think the physical condition is something that restricts you, you will be sad and full of hatred to this world. But try to think in this way: special physical condition is something that makes you unique, then you will learn to accept it, live with it and even appreciate it. The boy is smart, I believe one day he will understand it.
The picture above is me and my partner, Judy.
Last week, the boy even brought me candies! He really changed a lot in this three months. I was really touched. RDA gives me the chance to know more people and to help others. I really learned a lot from this service. Communication is the bridge which connects people together. Not only communication, we also need to have patience. Sometimes we just do not truly know about the inside of a person. After further communication, I believe we will find out lots of beautiful virtues of the person and gain a valuable friendship as well.