ALEX Dennis of Blacktown is passionate about making public transport more accessible to people with disabilities.
He has spina bifida that causes chronic back pain and leg weakness on a daily basis.
Mr Dennis was appointed an ambassador to raise awareness about the disease for Spina Bifida Awareness Week, which runs from September 1-7.
He recently met with the NSW Opposition spokeswoman for transport Penny Sharpe and also co-hosted a forum, ‘‘Transport for all’’, to talk about improving the standard of public transport and allowing people with disabilities better access to the community.
Mr Dennis said there were many misconceptions about people with spina bifida.
“At the end of the day we have abilities, not just a disability, it shouldn’t define us,” he said.
Mr Dennis said disability service providers like Northcott, which have been helping him for the past 10 years, are important to people with spina bifida.
“Northcott has provided me with assistance in applying for, and obtaining, services as well as equipment like wheelchairs and walking aids.’’
Dr Carolyn West, one of Australia’s leading experts on spina bifida, said the risk of developing it could be reduced by up to 70 per cent if more people understood the importance of folate intake.
“Folate, or folic acid, needs to be taken when planning a pregnancy and continued for three months into the pregnancy,” she said.
“The recommended daily dose of folate is 0.5mg for normal pregnancies and 5mg for women who have a family history of neural tube defects.”