By Casey Neill
A Dandenong teen has won a national disability award.
Mark Alvares accepted the Samantha Sophia Ramsey Memorial Award at the Dandenong Civic Centre on Friday 28 July.
He received the $2000 prize to help with education and employment for his outstanding achievements as a young person with a disability.
“It’s really good. I feel happy and privileged,” the 19-year-old said.
A youth program worker from Greater Dandenong Council’s Youth Services team nominated Mark and Skilling Australia said he was a standout candidate.
He was diagnosed with attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and cerebral palsy after arriving in Australia from India in 2006.
He has participated in many programs, volunteered around the community, and pushed himself to further his employment skills.
Skilling Australia Foundation said Mark had shown exceptional motivation to strive and achieve his goals.
Mark said the council’s youth programs gave him the opportunity to meet people and be independent, and that he’d learnt plenty from fellow participants as well as teaching them a thing or two.
“They’re really good at helping me,” he said.
He’s worked at The Bridge Works in the packing area for the past year.
The annual Samantha Sophia Ramsey Memorial Award honours Skilling Australia Foundation director Sophie Ramsey’s daughter, who passed away in August 2015.
Samantha’s disability made it increasingly difficult for her to walk and communicate but she persevered.
“Samantha would bring the house down with her cheeky laughter and always had a sparkle in her eye,” Sophie said.