Portia Johnson

Portia Johnson Portia's condition is Cri du Chat Syndrome (a deletion in part of one of her 5th chromosomes). She started riding with Whakatane RDA when she was just 3 years old, back in 1997. When her family moved to Hamilton in 2001 she rode at Hamilton RDA and then Ride Hi in Rukuhia where she competed in some Special Olympic Ribbon days before coming to us in Cambridge in 2008 Portia did have a year out from riding in 2011-2012 as she had developed scoliosis and had rods placed down the length on both sides of her spine. She also does Special Olympics swimming and represented Te Awamutu at the NZ Games in Dunedin in 2013, winning two gold medals; and many ribbons over the years as you can see here on her impressive ribbon board. Over the last three years, Portia has done quite a bit of public speaking. This started at her high school for the final full school assembly in front of 1600 students in her last year of school. She spoke about her disability, how she felt, and how it would be nice for the mainstream school students to include the students in the special needs units on-site within the school environment more. She has since spoken as part of a Leadership programme representing People First New Zealand, a self-advocacy organisation that is led and directed by people with learning disability, to Universities and Schools in the Waikato/Bay of Plenty on similar issues. She is currently Vice President of the local People First branch. Portia has also spoken many times last year to Day Service Providers throughout the Waikato about the "Enabling Good Lives" initiative currently being rolled out in the Waikato. She attended a "Rotary Best Speaker Award" competition in Wellington earlier this year, and has spoken at three national Conferences. In September 2015 she attended the Cri du Chat Conference at SeaWorld on the Gold Coast and presented a speech to the attendees. Portia has had various volunteer work opportunities since high school which have helped her get a permanent part time job at Fairfax Media in Hamilton. Attitude TV did a half-hour documentary on Portia and her journey to get a job, which screened on TV1 on the 4th of October this year. This can be viewed at Attitudelive.com (under videos) or TVNZ on Demand. Portia also enjoys Taylor Swift music and fashion. In 2011, Portia modelled an Annah Stretton dress and walked the catwalk, at the NZ Fashion Week in Auckland. She currently lives at home in her own self-contained unit and is looking at perhaps going flatting with friends next year.