My name is DuDway Ko. I am 21 years old and I have Dystonic Cerebral Palsy.
I was born in a Northern Thailand Refugee camp, my parents are Burmese and our ethnic group is Bwe. My father died in the camp, and in March 2006 my mother, younger brother and I came to live in Porirua, New Zealand. We became New Zealand Citizens in 2012. I first went to Corrina School and then Bishop Viard College. I am now studying Information Technology at Whititrea.
In January 2012 whilst at Bishop Viard I was very fortunate to be invited to start riding with WRDA in Porirua. This opportunity was to really change my life. I had always wanted to play football but mum was always worried about me getting hurt. With the encouragement of the girls at WRDA, I very soon gained the confidence to ride a horse. Other the past four years my body has become stronger and my balance is so much better. I do not fall over very much at all now.
I am very lucky to have a wonderful horse to ride, called Tiki. At first I had difficulty clearly speaking - I am now getting much better at this. Tiki and I have a great understanding; she really listens to me and follows all of my instructions. Every Saturday morning to WRDA I go early so I am able to groom Tiki and get her ready for the lesson.
When my coaches Donna and Wendy first suggested that Tiki and I go to a competition at Hutt Valley RDA in Silverstream, I felt very nervous. It was something new for me. I had a great time and everyone was very friendly. We came home with a dressage Achievement certificate.
Other awards that I have won:
- At HV/WGTON RDA Games: 3/11/2013 Tiki and I came home with four sashes: two 1sts, a 2nd and a 4th, as well as a 1st medal.
- 2013 Certificate for Most Outstanding Rider of the Year at WRDA and two 1st sashes.
- NZRDA Rider of the Year 2013, frame certificate, medal to keep and one large cup.
Then, in 2014 Napier I competed in the Dressage Day Competition. We could not take Tiki so I rode a horse from the Napier RDA. I was very excited because I won a 1st place sash and a trophy with a horse and rider to keep.
Riding has really helped to make me feel very positive about everything in life I do. We have a young boy at riding who wants to ride like me. I want to thank WRDA for giving me this opportunity and especially to Donna and Wendy for all their care and support. This is a truly wonderful organization for people with a disability.