Sam inspires students ‘not to give up’

DETERMINATION: 16-year-old Ballarat student Sam Rizzo wants to prove to others they can achieve anything when they put their mind to it. Picture: Kate Healy.

DETERMINATION: 16-year-old Ballarat student Sam Rizzo wants to prove to others they can achieve anything when they put their mind to it. Picture: Kate Healy.

NOTHING will stop 16-year-old Ballarat student Sam Rizzo from achieving his dreams, not even the fact he uses a wheelchair.

If anything, it has inspired him to dream bigger.

This year Sam, who was diagnosed with spina bifida when he was born, began a two-year VET Automotive Certificate II course and he hasn’t been afraid to break down any barriers in his way.

With the help of a new wheelchair, which allows him to fully participate in the program, he is well on the way to proving nothing should deter anyone from giving something a go.

The new wheelchair, which was bought by Federation University, has allowed Sam to reach bench heights and follow in the footsteps of his father, who has been a mechanic since Sam’s age.

When Sam graduates secondary school and completes his school-based VET course, he hopes to continue working with small engines and one day create his own wheelchairs.

For the time being he is hoping to inspire other students with personal limitations not to hold back from learning new skills.

“Try and make anything possible,” he said.

“Don’t give up, there are other solutions and ways to break down barriers.”

Federation University disability liaison officer Baden Cutts said no student should be denied the ability to learn.

“Education should be equal to all, regardless of disability,” Mr Cutts said.

“It should be the norm.”

Mr Cutts said the university worked with all students with disabilities, mental health issues and medical conditions to help them complete their courses.

He said each student was offered individualised academic support catered specifically to their needs.

Highlands LLEN VET cluster co-ordinator Leah Davis said it was support like this that gave every student equal opportunities in the workforce.

“To be able to participate in VET programs opens up doors for students, impairment or not, to get the opportunity to meet employees and to network,” Ms Davis said.

“It’s a great stepping stone into adult life.”