MAD Ball puts abilities first

SPEND just five minutes with Scott Vandenbergh and you’ll find he is just as funny, quick-witted and full of energy as the next person, that is, if you can see past his wheelchair.

Scott’s father Steve Vandenbergh said the assumptions made about people with disabilities were the biggest challenges for people like his son.

“When they see him in his wheelchair they talk to him like he’s a five-year-old rather than an intelligent young man,” he said.

“It’s a shame and they don’t take the time to get to know him.”

Scott, 24, and his father were part of yesterday’s MAD (Music, Art, Dance) Ball at Orange PCYC to celebrate International Day of People with a Disability.

People with a disability, their carers and service providers gathered for music, art, zumba and lunch.

Scott was just 15 years old when he was diagnosed with Ataxia Telangiectasia.

The rare genetic condition left him with reduced movement, slurred speech and premature ageing.

“When something goes wrong with his DNA nothing gets fixed,” Mr Vandenbergh said.

Despite the challenges Scott faces every day, he has skydived, sailed on a yacht and completed courses in media and photography.

He was also at yesterday’s ball as the DJ, with his father in tow as “official roadie”.

His role as a DJ is one he loves and regularly undertakes every second Friday night for youth groups.

“I like playing good songs and seeing their reactions,” Scott said.

GALLERY: ALL OUR SNAPS FROM THE MAD BALL

Orange City Council ageing and disability services community development officer Amanda Rodwell said days like this were important to show that everyone has abilities.

“It’s highlighting that people with a disability have abilities as well,” she said.

All Mr Vandenbergh asks is next time you meet someone like Scott, take a minute and listen, you never know what you could learn.

“You don’t know what people can do until you give them the opportunity to try,” he said.

“If you don’t give them an opportunity you miss out on so much.”

nadine.morton@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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