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CFA a second home for Daniel
Daniel Neilson is a revelation for the Chiltern Junior Fire Brigade.
Not only has he proven his ability around a fire station, he’s taught his peers about pushing beyond your boundaries.
The 12-year-old, who has autism spectrum disorder, joined the brigade in September last year and has come along leaps and bounds since.
Junior development coordinator Kurtis Hickling says Daniel has made a home for himself within the brigade.
“He’s been really supported by his peers and he’s having a ball,” he said.
“Apparently everything used to be about his Xbox, now it’s all about firefighting.
“At the moment we’re focused on competition training and running through all the different events. Daniel does a great job. He’s really aware of his team mates and always makes sure they’re OK.
“He knows his way around a fire truck. He can hook up a hydrant and pump water through the truck.
“He possesses all the skills and qualities of a firefighter but considering his disability it really is quite remarkable. We’re so proud to have him in the brigade.”
Mr Hickling said Daniel’s presence around the brigade has also been an inspiration for others.
“The kids look forward to seeing him. They see his ability and what he can achieve. I think that’s what makes it all so great.
“For me it just shows there are no boundaries or barriers, that anyone can accomplish anything. Daniel has demonstrated that by putting his mind to the job and putting it in action.
“It’s blown us out of the water how good he’s doing.”
Daniel’s mother Tammy says the brigade has helped his social skills, something which doesn’t come as naturally for kids with ASD.
“It’s been really good to find somewhere that’s accepted him, given him a go and treated him like one of the family,” she said.
“Daniel does know about his disabilities and it does get him down. This shows him that, yes, there are always going to be bullies but there are people who will accept you as well. It means a lot to him that they’ve accepted him and as a parent it’s nice to see.
“We’re happy he’s found somewhere else besides home that he feels like he belongs.”
Photos by Kurtis Hickling