Some people name their cars. Jo names her hands. She’s had Freaky Fred, Old Red and Bluey (to name a few), and her two current hands are Tony and Edward - named after Tony Edward Stark, aka Iron Man. Edward (her new TASKA CX) is the favourite when Jo works with kids. “I have noticed that children were a little afraid of Tony, my hook, but they love Edward and think he's ‘sooooo cool’ - they often call it my bionic arm. So it is an opportunity for me to raise awareness.”
When TASKA were developing the new TASKA CX hand, Jo contacted founder Mat Jury, and said if anyone could put the new hand through its paces, it would be her. Jo has had a powered hand for as long as she can remember and is not afraid of getting amongst it. So, Jo became a TASKA field trialist.
Jo has two loves in life: People and ponies. When not judging New Zealand equestrian events, she’s in paddocks with horses holding apples or dressed as a bionic bumble bee at a children’s sports day. That’s Jo in a nutshell. She is always busy lending a hand and putting others before herself. “I do (sometimes) lend my hand… no joke.” adds Jo, with a hearty laugh.
Not only is she a TASKA Champion, but Jo is also a Paralympic Gold Medallist (Atlanta) and a three-time World Champion Gold Medallist for differently abled riders. Originally from the UK, now living in New Zealand, Jo has travelled the world with her riding, going to far-flung places such as Israel, Denmark, Sweden and most exotic of all, Australia (her words).
Jo works with Parafed Bay of Plenty - a not-for-profit organisation that enables sport, recreation and play opportunities for differently abled people. Having been a Paralympian, Jo helps people engage in sports from a grassroots level to international competition. “For my work, I'm currently developing & delivering an inclusive Play Programme FLIPA (Fun Learning through Play Advocates), which I deliver to Primary Schools across the Bay of Plenty.” You can tell this is something Jo is very proud about. “I do a lot of driving for my job. If it’s a huge day, I can charge Edward (her TASKA CX) between schools using the cigarette lighter attachment.”
While testing the TASKA CX prototype, Jo took it strimming, lawn mowing, and dishwashing - “If you want to test the breaking point of your gear, then I’m your girl!” Jo eats life and takes it in big bites. The one thing she did not anticipate with her new hand was the level of fine motor control. Suddenly, she had choices as to how fast or slow to grip and with different degrees of pressure. “The ability to open and close slowly is something I love - I haven't had that with myo hands so far. Gentle is not my forte when it comes to arm use!!” Now, Jo can hold & crack an egg when making dinner. Grasp a drink bottle to undo the lid without the contents exploding everywhere and hold a potato to peel without the potato flying across the room. “As a youngster, my son learnt to duck when I tried peeling them with my manual hook.”
Jo believes you have to laugh, so TASKA’s customisable grips have been a never-ending source of joy and merriment, especially the Rock on’ grip. “I like to get on and live life, and as of yet, Edward is working well & I haven't broken him!” It looks like Eddy is going steady and less freaky than Freddy or Teddy. Jo is forever moving forward, judging, teaching, inspiring, and always, always having a bit of a giggle.
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