LCE Youth Board member Summer Montileaux was named a 2014 Summer of Service Award winner by Youth Service America. The Summer of Service Award is funded by Disney ABC Television Group, in collaboration with Disney Friends for Change, an initiative that inspires kids and their families to make a lasting, positive change by helping people, communities and the planet. As a Summer of Service Award winner, Summer will receive a $1,000 grant to implement more service projects in her community, on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.
In July of 2014, Summer prepared a flyer that gathered statistics about AIDS Awareness and Prevention on Pine Ridge and provided information about how to obtain free AIDS testing. Summer said she chose this topic because “it is a serious health issue and as a Lakota people, we cannot go on thinking that it is not here on our reservation. HIV/AIDS is here and the youth need to empower themselves with knowledge and make healthy choices.” Summer, Keith, Steffon and other Youth Board members distributed the flyers to people attending the opening rock concert for the 2014 Wacipi in Pine Ridge.
LCE Youth Board Chair Keith Martinez said: “I helped distribute Summer’s flyers about AIDS Awareness and prevention at the opening concert before the Pow Wow and the response was really positive. People were surprised and thankful that someone so young had decided to increase awareness about AIDS and AIDS prevention, topics that are not discussed much on Pine Ridge. Summer is a true leader of our youth now and in the future.”
LCE President Maggie Dunne said: “Summer is an emerging leader who wants to help her family, friends, community and the world. It has been exciting to watch her gain confidence, take on leadership positions and see them through — while creating a positive impact in the community and serving as a role model for her peers. Summer (and the other kids on our Youth Board) demonstrate that there is talent, compassion, ambition and wisdom among the youth on Pine Ridge. I look forward to watching Summer’s future accomplishments!”
Last Spring, Summer won a Disney Friends for Change grant, which she used to educate her peers about nutrition. At LCE’s April Game Changers Youth Summit, Summer led a panel discussion about strategies to find healthy food choices on the Reservation, as there is only one supermarket and healthy food can be hard to find. She also led a service team that packed up a collection of healthy food selections to distribute to families living on Pine Ridge, and included with those packages a flyer she prepared on nutrition.
Summer is a two-time Runner-Up in LCE’s Writing Challenge and a Co-Founding member of LCE’s Youth Advisory Board. You can see her 2014 poem, The Genocide of Native Americans Leaves a Mark on the United States, on Medium, where she says “We are strong and we are will not back down and give in…. we are the voices of the past, present and the future.”