Summer is autistic and finds social settings challenging and confusing. She proudly helps others with the same condition to feel less isolated and this is part of why she was recognised for her three years of dedication.
At the age of 10 Summer created the world’s first animal assisted learning program of its kind, a program that involved chickens to help people overcome their challenges.
Summer was awarded three Animal Therapies Ltd awards which included the People's Choice Award and the Lived Experience nomination for her courage, resilience and determination, along with the award for her Chicken Assisted Learning Program.
In Melbourne accepting her Animal Therapies Ltd awards, Summer said she felt honoured to be nominated and it was a bonus to take home the awards.
“There were so many amazing people just as worthy (who) were nominated,” Summer said.
“I had absolutely no idea at all.
“I went to the awards night mainly so I could network with other people who are passionate about animal assisted programs, I also wanted to celebrate their achievements.”
Summer said she was overwhelmed by the win but she said she felt at home being around like-minded people at the Animal Therapy Ltd awards.
“Everyone at the awards were so welcoming and kind, I really felt like I have found my tribe,” she said.
“I met so many amazing people with inspiring journeys.
“At the end of the day we all want the same out come to empower others through the use of animals.”
What’s next for Summer and her animal therapy
Summer and her mum Cynthia thanked Community Lifestyle Support CEO Damien Tracey who sponsored their flights to Melbourne to ensure they could attend the Animal Therapies Ltd award ceremony.
The 13-year-old is currently developing her Chicken Assisted Learning Program with Community Lifestyle Support Coordinator of allied health Sarah James.
Summer said chickens had helped her build resilience and trust and her chicken flock had helped program participants cultivate self-esteem and given many a sense of purpose.
She hopes to find a psychologist who would like to a study the benefits of her program.
Summer said Animal Therapies Ltd had launched the national directory of animal-assisted services to service providers to offer information about their programs.
“In March we will launch the search capability to the public so that those in need can get help for their particular condition and location,” Summer said.
Earlier Summer stories: