Summer reaches her dreams
AFTER enduring a lifetime of medical problems, Summer Castles has fulfilled her dream of becoming an Australian Defence Force Cadet.
Each weekend the brave 14-year-old dons her khaki uniform and slouch hat to train with her fellow cadets.
Summer was born without a fully-formed nose and she is profoundly deaf.
Trachea surgery has allowed her to breathe through a hole in her neck, but Summer remains unable to talk and she is fed through a tube to her stomach.
Her carer, Jenny Henssler, said Summer has endured between 115 and 120 operations in her short life.
"I think if you've got to overcome a lot of medical problems people have to look at being far more creative in assisting a child, which they certainly have been at her school and in the cadets," Ms Henssler said.
Along with learning to salute and stand to attention, Summer is about to complete her first year of high school at Woodlawn College.
Next year she plans to undertake cadet training courses as well.
It was natural for Summer to join cadets, her family has a strong military background - her grandfather won a Victoria Cross in the Crimean War.
Ms Henssler said Summer has a "very generous soul" and she is "so proud to be part of the Cadet community".
"Everyone has encouraged her to be part of things like cadets and consequently I think she has exceeded any hopes and dreams we ever had for her," she said.
"She was so unwell for so long and it takes a whole community of people with a very can-do attitude to help a child, any child, to reach their dreams."