Participant Stories



By Jo Raciti (very proud mum)

My son Adam is a seven year old boy who was born with a genetic disease called Joubert Syndrome.  This resulted in delayed milestones, poor balance, an eye-problem call oculomotor apraxia and poor gross and fine motor skills.  Adam did not start talking until he was 2 and a half and he could not stand up until he was about 3.  He spent the best part of 12 months in a standing frame.  He took his first four steps with the aid of AFOs (Ankle Foot Orthosis) on his third birthday.  He was given a walker to use but he told me that he would walk without it and he did because he is a very determined young man.  Last year Adam developed Hypermobility Joint syndrome and has experienced some severe pain at times.  But he loves life and he loves animals and just wants to participate in as much as his little body allows him to.

Last year we were fortunate to gain a place at Tall Timbers for a semester of horse riding with the RDA.  He rode Kahlua, one of the most gentle and patient horses I’ve ever seen and the improvement in his balance was quite incredible.  Before he started with the RDA he could only hop about 8 times on the same leg before falling over.  Now he can hop at least 30 times on the same leg!  Horse riding improved his core strength and stability – the first years at school saw him experience many falls in the playground.  Now at recess he is joining in the soccer game on the oval, not ‘front and centre’, but joining in at least which is fantastic.  He participated in the Mounted Games and won his very first ribbons.  It was my proudest moment to date.

We are truly grateful to the RDA, its staff and wonderful sponsors for allowing him to have this opportunity again this semester.  He has a real love of animals and participating in this activity each fortnight has improved his self esteem and confidence.  Not many seven year olds are able to say that they ‘ride’ regularly and to put him into an ordinary riding school would put him at risk of injury.  Adam feels safe riding at Tall Timbers and it is only with the support of generous donors and volunteers that this program can be offered to children such as him.  We thank you for this incredible opportunity.  For us, this is more than therapy for Adam – this is a way of accessing the community.  We are sincerely grateful.  Thank you for bringing such joy to our little boy’s life.