Speech by Acting CS at Riding for the Disabled Association 40th Anniversary Charity Ball (English only)
Dr Simon Ip (President of RDA and Chairman of the Hong Kong Jockey Club), Mr Thomas Yeung (Chairman of the RDA), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Good evening. It gives me great pleasure to join you tonight to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Riding for the Disabled Association.
First of all, my heartfelt gratitude to RDA for its contributions to promoting disabled sports and nurturing equestrian athletes in Hong Kong over the past four decades. The RDA has provided free therapeutic horse riding lessons to more than 650 persons with disabilities annually. I am also thankful for the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC)’s staunch support for RDA since the latter’s establishment in 1975. My appreciation also goes to sponsors and volunteers who have given financial and other support to RDA over the years. For example, I know that each week over 180 volunteers spend time to assist 120 riders with disabilities in enjoying the therapeutic benefits of horse-related activities at the RDA facilities.
Horse riding in Hong Kong is not yet popular among the general public. Many still view it as an upper-class leisure activity. The RDA has been the only NGO in Hong Kong that is dedicated to promoting horse riding for young people with physical or mental challenges. Riding can help improve muscle strength, co-ordination of limbs and physical endurance. It is also a sport that can train one’s concentration and communication skills and build self-confidence.
Examples are abundant to show how the training provided by the RDA has helped many to realise their potential. Nelson Yip is one of them. He endured vigorous training to become an accomplished equestrian athlete and represented Hong Kong in the dressage event at the 2008 Paralympics. Natasha Tse, who is with us today, is another. She started riding at the age of five, overcame her disability through training, and competed in the Paralympic Games in 2012 and 2016. Participation in sports has brought them not only improved physical fitness, prizes and honours, but also invaluable experience and confidence to tackle challenges in life.
The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region actively promotes participation in sports by people with disabilities and supports disabled athletes to strive for excellence. The Home Affairs Bureau and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department have been working through National Sport Associations and the Hong Kong Sports Institute to provide support in various forms, such as provision of training venues, coaches, gear and equipment, local and overseas training, and organisation of competitions. We also have the Arts and Sport Development Fund and the Hong Kong Paralympians Fund that subsidise participation of athletes with disabilities in training and major sporting events.
In the 2016 Paralympic Games, the Hong Kong delegation has done us proud by winning two gold, two silver and two bronze medals. We are ready to do more to help our athletes grow and develop. We have recently conducted a public consultation on a consultancy study on Sport for People with Disabilities in Hong Kong and received supportive feedback in general. We will formulate concrete work plans with relevant stakeholders to promote and develop sport for people with disabilities in a more comprehensive manner.
The Government will spare no efforts to promote sports but we cannot do it alone. The RDA is a successful community-led initiative that demonstrates the importance of joint efforts of different sectors. Apart from the HKJC, sponsors, instructors, members and volunteers of the Association are strong supporters of RDA, and fully demonstrate that active collaboration between the Government and the community. Tonight’s Charity Ball is the key fundraising event of the RDA. I wish it a great success and all our guests an enjoyable evening.
Ends/Friday, January 13, 2017
Issued at HKT 20:50
Issued at HKT 20:50