Thursday, 11 October 2007

Update: Riding for the Disabled...



Little Sqaw and Me...



Yay! I finally managed to log on!



Everyone, I would like you to meet a new friend of mine...She's white, brown, and a little black, here, there and everywhere, and her name is Little Sqaw...

She's a pony, and we met yesterday at the Penang Turf Club...



For my Psychology Human Development Course this semester, we are required to study a group of people...My friend and I have chosen to study Down Syndrome, and in the course of our work, we visited Asia Community Service's First Step Early Intervention for Kids centre...

Somehow (don't ask how), we found ourselves volunteering to help at the weekly 'Riding for the Disabled' (RDA) program at the Turf Club...



This program sees kids with various disabilities learning to ride a horse (or a pony) under the watchful eye of qualified (riding) trainers...The kids pay a mere RM 50 every month; the sum is to help them be committed on their part...



Anyway, I met 4 lovely kids yesterday...

2 of them, *Sean and *Ron had Autism, 1 of the darlings, *Ernie, is blind, and another one, *Matthew, who suffers from the very rare Cri-Du-Chat (Cry-of-the-Cat) Syndrome...Infants with Cri-Du-Chat cry like a kitten (they have a whole host of other problems), thus the name...


I have only once met a child (newborn) with Cri-Du-Chat, and to see a child who's about 6-years-old riding a horse was really quite special...




The job of the volunteer is to either lead the horse as it walks and trots, or to walk on either side of the child, with a slight grip on their ankles...This is to ensure that the child does not lose balance or fall...

You have to remember that the kids who attend these sessions are special children, so the balance which we all take for granted, isn't always their forte...

We also sing songs-with-action (like Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star) and do all kinds of 'exercise' techniques to encourage the kids to take their hands off the saddle to encourage their balancing skills, and also concentration and instruction-taking skills...




It was pretty tiring, running alongside the horses...I hereby declare that 2 hours of running is like being in the gym...Cos we run to keep up with a trotting horse, and we were running on sand...It takes more to run quickly on sand than on flat ground as sand sinks...




I worked with LandMark, an actual horse (as in, not pony lar)...LandMark use to be a champion in some competition (sorry, details a little rusty here), and this horse has got a personality...Sometimes, he just refused to move and we had to punch him (he doesn't seem to feel anything...Our hands only sakit!) and he would just go 'Hrmph' and blow air (and saliva!) through his nostrils and mouth, and just refuse to move!

But when he did decide that he would listen to us and trot, he would really trot! And this naughty little fella (ok, there is nothing little about him!) actually swatted me with his tail a few times!




The child I accompanied was 7-year-old Ernie, who was born blind...Ernie was just a little darling, and he made up for his lack of sight with excellent hearing and olfactory skills...He communicated by speech, but when he met new people, he held out his hands and felt the person's hands, and sometimes face...



It seems Ernie identifies people by their smell, and I know he knows who he is with just by feeling their hands...I don't think I want to know what I smell like though ;)




And the horses were just sooo cool...I met the pony Little Sqaw, who is such a real darling...She was very cooperative, very gentle with the children, very obedient, and a little easier to run with...She loved being stroked, and would close her eyes, and let you stroke her all day long...And guess what? She is actually going for Sukma next year! You go, girl!



CASH



Good horsey: An apprehensive me is worried about getting too close to Cash...So, I stand farther away, and poke only my head nearer...

He doesn't look like he is going to kill me...





Ok, so Cash is cool...A relieved me (see, nearer to him now) dares to smile a little adi...






Gone...The apple is gone...





Good, good horsey: It's ok! We're friends now...Phew...



*Check out the size of his nose! It's like velvet though...=)




I met Cash, who is a Carriage Horse...When I first saw him, I was a little terrified, because of his size...But he thrust his nose and face into my chest because he could smell that I was carrying carrots and apples...Despite his size (his nose is bigger than my palm!), he was amazingly gentle, and took the apples from my outstretched hand without hurting me, although he left behind a lot of horsey-saliva!

By the end of it all, we were firm friends...But then again, I bribed him with a lot of apples!



I also met Midnight Dancer, who had a slightly unpredictable temperament...I was warned to not feed him, as he had a habit of taking not only the apple, but also take bits of your hand too...He doesn't mean to, but is a little ganas lar...Basically he is just a little clumsy...



I also met this horse whose name I don't know, but I have christened him Oreo, cos he is creamy white, with flecks of black spots, like a Cookies & Cream mixture...Like McD's McFlurry Oreo Ice Cream!



I also met Silver Spoon, who was creamy, and also a Carriage Horse...Silver Spoon was taken for a trot halfway through, so I didn't really get acquianted with him...



I also met Sarah, who is being trained in Jumping...She had really oily skin, and was a little huffy initially...She did, however, stop for me to rub her nose on her way to the stable, and was real friendly once she warmed up...I heard she can jump up to 80 cm, but I'm not sure whether I heard right ;)



Whatever it is, I had a great time! I felt like a little kid running around with horses, my hair all over the place, sweat pouring down my face, sand in my shoes, horse-drool all over my palms, horse-hair between my fingers, and giggling when they nosed me with their soft, velvety noses...



The kids made it all the more special, especially little Ernie whom I was with throughout...


I wonder who had more fun...Me, or the kids?



I sure look forward to seeing my newfound 2-legged and 4-legged friends again next Wednesday!

Will keep you guys posted, and when my wireless permits it...



See ya round!




Note: Please be patient with me while I reply to comments and post new posts...My wireless, like I said, is hopeless...And I wish to take this opportunity to wish everyone Selamat Hari Raya!

*Names have been changed






22 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a sweetie you are!! Such a lovely smile you have!!

ruby ahmad said...

Hi Daphne,

That is really wonderful. I agree with you we take so many things for granted even balance..I think doing such work always make us more appreciative and thankful and make us want to give more. Well done Daphne.

I love all the horses' names. So quirky and creative. I love this sharing Daphe. It left a lump in the throat somehow. You're super. Keep up with your good work.

tokasid said...

Dear Daphne:

When I first read this in the e-mail I said: Wow! Its wonderful doing this to help these special children.

And now reading this entry, it is very interesting.

As for the children,I'm sure they enjoyed themselves immensely.

You've met a 6years old Cri-Du-Chat? Tell you the truth I never saw one in my practice. Can't remember if I saw one during my students day. Have to ask mokk or drzeze if they remember seeing one.

Just one small question: Horse odour...is it like a cow or a goat or just like a horse? Justwondering here for you sure had close encounters of the fifth kind with these horses.

And since you will be in Penang during the festive season, why not drop by che'gu kata tak nak's place and suprise him on Hari raya.

winniethepooh said...

its sure sounds like a great job the animals are doing and I'm pretty sure u had lots of fun and gained a whole lot of new understanding and knowledge in that one day there..

enjoy ur time and definitely looking forward to your more posts about the time u spend with the horse and the kids there!

Nightwing said...

Hi Daphne, thanks for sharing. I think the kids also had a good time ...

Keep it up..u doing great.

Hope your wireless don;t give u much trouble.

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Anon 4.10am,

Thank you! And thank you samore! Hehe...

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Kak Ruby,

Ditto on taking things for granted...I have volunteered to lead horses with kids on them before (you know, like during school fundraisers etc), but it was always a one-woman show for every horse...

It was only when I went for the RDA that I realised how the the 'normal' child is capable of balancing on the horse with no problems whatsoever, but the special child might have problems...

Like Ernie for example...He was not able to see, so to have a friendly hand lightly holding his ankles gave him more confidence to lift his hands off the saddle to do the action movements...

Thanks for sharing in this story Kak Ruby, and you have a wonderful Hari Raya...=)

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Doc Tokasid,

Thanks for sharing in this story...

Yes, I met a Cri-Du-Chat child...He has a vague expression on his face, has minimal eye-contact and doesn't concentrate much when people talk to him...

I feel (I don't know for sure) as if he has some form of Autism too...But then again, it could be the Cri-Du-Chat 'talking'...

I have never worked with Cri-Du-Chat children before (besides seeing briefly the newborn), so I cannot recognise them by sight, which means I can't tell you much about how the condition presents itself...Sorry I can't be of much help...

As for horsey-odour, well, it is quite similar to cow and goats, in a way...

But the horses, if well taken cared off (like the ones in the Turf Club) have only a faint smell...When you first step into the stable, you are more aware of it...But you sorta get used to it and then you don't even realise it anymore...

Which is not something I can say about cows and goats...I swear I can smell the goats near my house even when they're not in sight...

And if it is a rainy day...Ah...

As for visiting Chegu Nazir, I barely know him lar...I've commented on his blog a few times, but that is about it...

And I don't have any transport...No bus stand near my place as I live on 'Millionaire' grounds and they all are chauffeur driven...And taxi is way too expensive (it generally takes around RM 20 or so to get to any place)!

I am just going to spend the whole of Saturday sleeping...

Something I have not had the chance to do in a very, very long time...

Have a wonderful Hari Raya Doc!

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Winnie,

Yes! I learned alot while I was there, even though it was only 2 hours...

I believe this program is taking place in quite a few areas...I know Ipoh (under Yayasan, I think) has the same program, but while I was in Ipoh, was taken up by the work in the hospital that I didn't volunteer with the horse riding...No point in spreading myself too thinly, right?

I will try and blog about this again, as an update, and try and share pictures...

It is soo frustrating...Got pictures, got computer, got internet, but cannot log on, and cannot load pictures...

Take care Winnie...

Daphne Ling said...

Hi NightWing,

I hope the kids enjoyed themselves...I know I did...You would never think I am 21 judging from the way I was running around and giggling...Hehe...Like a childhood revisited!

Oh, my wireless is not toooo bad today...Simply because I left my computer on stand-by last night so I was already logged on today!

But I can't do this for days at a go...

the Razzler said...

Dear Daphne ..

As usual ... you never ceased to amaze me!! :) :)

The immense compassion and love that you possess is incredible.

Keep up the great work that you are doing ... I really look forward to be able to meet you one day!!

Rita Ho said...

Hi Daphne ... I too am moved by the work you do so voluntarily for those in need, with so much heart and unconditional love. Those kids and horses are blessed to have you crossed their paths. And we are lucky that you share the experience with us. I'm glad you had a great time. Enjoy your well-deserved rest!

Kata Tak Nak said...

This is the first time I see a photo of you that shows more than just your face. You claimed to be hefty but what I see is certainly not so.
Nice pic.

Daphne Ling said...

Ah, I'm back from classes, and am looking forward to spending some time looking at the walls, watching the mozzies who call me Queen, and just doing nothing...

Hi The Razzler,

Haha, you are such a sweet person...It is always so nice to read your comments because you always find the nicest things to say, whether we deserve it or not!

I look forward to meeting you one day too!

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Aunty Rita,

Thank you for sharing in this story!

I am nothing special, but the circumstances I was presented with are...I am sure alot of people would do what I do if they had been given the opportunity to be touched and overwhelmed by this spirit of giving and helping...

My friend who is my partner for the Psychology project was reluctant to go for the RDA, and I think she agreed to go once because she felt obliged to return a favour to the centre, but on Wednesday, after the session, she loudly declared she was coming with me the next week too!

My only reservation was transport, but when they (the people from the centre) offered to pick me up, I said ok immediately!

Now it looks like no need, cos my friend wants to go too...

So you see, all it takes is for other people to try it, and then it becomes an 'obsession'...

Give your time, and it gives your life perspective...It gives your life meaning...

And the horses is a bonus for a person who loves animals like me!

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Chegu Kata Tak Nak,

Oh my...What an honour to have you here...

Ah...I am even more flattered! I may not look 'hefty' in some ways, but I would definitely beg to differ when I go shopping for tops!

These people don't know how to make clothes...I need the largest most of the time!

So yeah, sometimes hefty, sometimes not...

Which is one reason I look forward to going overseas! Can you imagine?

Wearing small or medium from the petite department!

*Faints*

Happy Hari Raya, sir!

kl_gal said...

What a cute lil horse...At the risk of sounding corny, your smile reminds me of sunshine..betul ni..not kidding lah.
Again, you do amazing work and seem to have a gift & empathy for children in distress..they are very fortunate to have you beside them.Enjoy your sleeping marathon :))

Puteri said...

I am very happy to read how much the kids enjoyed the four legged friends, and you too, Daphne!

Keep up the good work!

Ng Chi Ying said...

Hi Daphe,

Woon Hun & I are so glad & proud of you of being a volunteer for the RDA on Wednesday organised by ACS (Asia Community Service); and of course your project partner, J.W. too. I am sure Khai Yue will not be so lucky when she is 6 y.o. as the current site for The Penang Turf Club is going to be the PGCC (Pg Global City Centre) soon. Khai Yue is too young to participate now & only those special need children > 6 y.o. can join in. Have you visited the ACS Stepping Stone Work Centre for the disabled adult group @ Balik Pulau? Hope you can email me some pictures which you took during your visit to ACS First Step Centre last week. I missed that session. At the meantime, take your oppurtunity to 'run' the horse while the PGCC is not commenced yet. How is your project paper on the study of the children with Down Syndrome? Need anymore info?

Daphne Ling said...

Hi KL_Gal,

Haha...Memangler sunshine...Sebab kan pakai braces...It reflects...Very silau!

What do you do in the sun? You squint right? Silau things also make you close eyes!

Muahaha...

Thanks for coming by yeah...

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Puteri,

Yeap! I enjoyed the four-legged friends very much! Wait, one day, I will blog about how I made friends with the no-legged...

They call them snake...=)

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Aunty Chi Ying and Uncle Woon Hun,

Wow...Thank you for coming by!

I can't make it to the ACS Stepping Stone Work Centre in Balik Pulau...I wanted to volunteer there and also for the mobile library, but I have classes on those days...

I believe there are only 2 more sessions this year for the RDA, by the way...

Oh dear, that is sad...They don't allow children below 6 to join the sessions because of size or what?

Because if that is so, Khai Yue definitely can go lor...The kids are pretty tiny, you know? I'll ask for you the next session...

I'll answer the rest in the email, k?

Thank you for visiting Aunty Chi Ying...It really is an honour...=)