Cameron Cadarette has turned the pain he’s suffered from childhood trauma into a mission to help others who also suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
And at 15-years-old, Cadarette, who relies on the support of his service dog Vince to help him deal with the effects of his “hidden disability” is about to receive an Ontario Junior Citizen award.
He created a not-for-profit organization called Project Teal three years ago to bring awareness to first responders and veterans who live with PTSD. Project Teal connects people with community resources, including therapy, physicians, government services and outreach groups.
In addition, Cadarette collects toiletries, clothing, sleeping bags and food, and distributes them to the homeless and folks in need though his Life Pack program. So far, he has assembled and delivered more than 5,000 packages in Windsor.
Cadarette has been chosen for a 2019 Ontario Junior Citizen award, which will be presented by the Ontario Community Newspapers Association on April 3. He is one of 12 recipients.
The award recognizes outstanding young people, ages six to 17, who: are performing worthwhile community service; are contributing to their communities while living with limitations; have performed acts of heroism; or are “good kids” who are making life better for others and doing more than expected given their young age.
Cadarette’s mom Nicole McMillan nominated him for the award in the category of contribution to the community while living with a disability (physical or psychological).
McMillan said her son has faced many challenges in his young life, but that he “wanted to make a difference in the lives (of those) who help us every day.”
She said she helps him with the Life Pack deliveries he makes four times a year.
“When we have been on the streets, some who were down on their luck, homeless, come up and tell him that they made it through the night because of the pack he gave them or the food, because they hadn’t eaten in two days,” she said. “(He) chose to make a difference in the lives of others.”
Many of Cadarette’s teachers at Canadian Christian Academy wrote letters attesting to his community service, as did friend Emily Wright, a Toronto resident, who said she is inspired by Cadarette’s determination.
Wright, who also has a service dog, provided support to Cadarette when he was struggling to get accommodation at another school for his service dog.
“I know Cameron has struggled with explaining what PTSD is to many people in his life,” Wright wrote in her letter of support. “I believe he is a true example of an outstanding citizen. He is dedicated to helping others and giving back to his community and does so in a way that is honest and full of integrity.”