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Sandy Sanderson

By Stan Stewart.

Sandy Sanderson from Coromandel has recently arrived in ‘Whitianga Care Centre and Village’ (Whitianga Continuing Care). Sandy needs the care provided by Continuing Care because he has Huntington Disease. He is a person of extraordinary talent with global recognition. We will cover some of his life and achievements in three articles.

Primary School Days:

Sandy was an only child whose talent in drawing and model making was ignored by his parents. He lived with his English parents in Kampala, Uganda, where his father was an engineer in charge of water supply and distribution. His mother worked full time. His busy parents pretty much left Sandy to his own devices, this suited Sandy as he had many interests and enthusiasms. From his early years he always had a drawing book in which he would draw his ideas and sketch the things he was imaging about. In particular he was interested in model cars and aeroplanes and Meccano sets.

The joy of working with Meccano was twofold. One was designing and building the model. This was followed by a time of enjoyment as the model was played with. Finally, the whole process of dismantling the model was something that interested him.

He made his first model car when he was six. He was pleased with his creation. Sadly, his parents had no interest in Sandy’s models. They left him to his own devices and scarcely noticed what he was doing.

One of Sandy’s school friends whose father made model planes made a model with his son and taught him how to fly it. Sandy watched them from the side-lines. However, he was not allowed to take part.

At home, making models was his major activity. His parents took no interest in his exploits. Their only comments were “Get that smell out of here!” Modelling glue has a strong acrid aroma. The only adult that did help him was the man at the model shop. He helped Sandy to move into planes that flew. At that stage Sandy bought a model aircraft motor and control wires. Shortly after this Sandy was up, up and away delighting in powered flight.

Through his models Sandy learnt about lift and thrust and drag. Surprisingly he realized that his understanding was sound when he made a boomerang as a craft exercise in school. A boy who had been to Australia brought a boomerang to class. Sandy thought to himself, I can make a boomerang out of plywood. The craft teacher was skeptical saying a boomerang made of plywood would never come back. Sandy thought otherwise.

By now through his experience with model planes he knew about lift and drag. First, he cut the boomerang shape. Then he smoothed the wings, upper and lower to the shape needed to give the wood lift and drag. When he felt he had it right he lacquered it to protect the wood and to reduce the drag.

At last, he was ready to throw the boomerang. The teacher and the class were skeptical. But Sandy was confident because he understood aerodynamics. He threw it up and away. Guess what! His plywood boomerang did come back. His classmates were impressed and then they all wanted to make one for themselves.

By the time he entered his teens it was becoming clear that Sandy was a model making genius. It was obvious to everyone who knew him, except his parents who were not looking.

Sandy’s parents were what is now known as ‘dismissive parents. Dismissive parenting is a pattern of behaviours and attitudes that signals rejection, scorn and disdain toward their child’s interests and achievements. In many cases this destroys the child’s talents. Some children, like Sandy rise above it and go on to succeed.

Huntington's disease (HD) is an inherited disorder that causes nerve cells (neurons) in parts of the brain to gradually break down and die. The disease attacks areas of the brain that help to control voluntary (intentional) movement, as well as other areas.

Caption: Sandy Sanderson.


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