Following four teenagers with special needs, The Ball, a documentary directed by Jessica Leski and produced by Princess Pictures, tracks their journey as they prepare for their school's presentation ball. First loves, fist fights and falls on the dance floor combine with honest interviews and intimate moments at home.
The documentary, an inspiring account of Anthony, Lauren, Natasha and Renato's participation in the ball, broadens the audience's perspective of teenagers who have an intellectual disability and highlights the importance of opportunities that allow the teenagers to achieve confidence and independence.
This study guide to accompany The Ball has been written for secondary students.
The Ball is suitable for senior secondary students undertaking English, Ethics, Health and Human Development, Media and Community Services VCE/VET.
Teachers may find the film relevant to units of work for junior and middle-secondary students in the following areas:
- Physical, Personal and Social Learning
Teachers need to be aware of students' family backgrounds before viewing The Ball. Some students in the class may live with a family member who has an intellectual disability. These students may be willing to share their experiences and understandings with the class.
For Anthony, Lauren, Natasha, Renato and the other senior students at Ashwood School, taking part in something that most high school students take for granted – a presentation ball – is an occasion to celebrate.
In many respects, the students have reached the threshold of adulthood. They are starting to be interested in the opposite sex, are craving more independence and want the satisfaction of earning a living. Their dreams are of making a home and of starting a family. Their intellectual disability means that these transitions will pose challenges for the teenagers and their families.
Participating in the presentation ball provides Anthony, Lauren, Natasha and Renato with the opportunity to consolidate the skills that they have learnt during their time at Ashwood School. The teenagers must listen to instructions, learn and remember dance steps, keep their cool during rehearsals and manage the excitement and anxiety that is part of their big night out.
Anthony, Lauren, Natasha and Renato are fortunate to have loving and supportive families to guide them through this process and to support their transition into the world beyond Ashwood School. The teenagers' parents, and in Natasha's case grandparents, are proud of their children's achievements and are equally excited about the presentation ball.
When the evening of the presentation ball finally arrives, the teenagers are more than ready to have a good time. Anthony and Renato look dashing and have their tempers in check. Natasha and Lauren look glamorous and don't let nerves or a broken stiletto get the better of them. The ball, a rite of passage for the teenagers and their families, is a resounding success.