Dreaming BIG with Tara Lord
Tara Lord joined our Altitude Day Roadshow in Perth, WA. Her powerful experience overcoming mental health challenges led her to create Kupu Kupu Australia, an Animal Assisted Therapy project initiative to empower people who are living with a mental illness, disabilities and youth from traumatic backgrounds. Tara brought her friend Loki, the therapy dog, along to visit and shared the impact animals have on human wellbeing.
We asked Tara a few questions about dreaming BIG:
What was a dream you had in high school (or Year 9 specifically)?
I wanted to have a career that helped people! I knew that I had a massive love for animals also so my dream was to combine the two, which is where the animal assisted therapy program came from! When I was younger, I actually thought this was something I could invent, when I researched I realised it already existed, but it wasn’t very prevalent in Australia (particularly in WA) so my dream was to change this!.
Can you share with us a goal that you have achieved and what it meant to you to achieve it?
A big goal of mine was to start up my own animal assisted therapy program/ business. Having a long battle with mental illness myself, this was a big passion of mine as I knew the benefit of animals and I was passionate about holistic therapy. I adopted a dog and went over to Melbourne for certification, I then returned to Perth and began facilitating the program at mental health, disability, aged care facilities, foster homes, schools, hospitals and much more. I also worked 1-1 with clients. Being able to achieve this has been life changing and incredible as I have seen amazing changes within people and facilities, and received amazing feedback about how Loki the therapy dog has impacted people’s lives, some even saying she saved them. Being able to be on this journey with people is truly amazing, I for one know how hard it is to navigate living with a mental illness, and being able to be even a small light in someone’s journey, even for a few minutes, is such an honour.
From Left: yTeamer Bridget ,Tara, Bel (CEO, yLead) & Loki the Therapy Dog
Lucy (yLead Facilitator) and Loki the Therapy Dog
While chasing dreams there are moments of highs and lows (mountain tops and valleys if you will)… what motivates you to continue chasing that dream when you’re in the valley?
For me it is remembering that I have gotten through 100% of my bad days so far, and that *cue another cheesy quote* “after every storm comes a rainbow”. There are always going to be challenges, but they make us who we are, and we learn and grow from them. It’s okay to take a step back, and feel the emotions for a while, and then use this as motivation to smash those goals you are wanting to achieve. There’s a quote that says “allow your tears to water the seeds of your future happiness” and I think this is so important because its both our positive and negative experiences that allow us to grow and reach those dreams we so badly want to reach.
What piece of practical advice would you give to young people who want to start, or are in the process of chasing a dream?
Remember that each journey begins with a single step. There are always small things you can do to work towards your dream, research, volunteering, speaking to like minded people, it took me along time to realise I wasn’t going to change the world in a day, but what’s important to remember is “Helping someone might not change the world, but it could change the world for one person”.
All dreams, big and small, are valuable. What are 5 dreams you are currently chasing?
Five dreams I’m currently chasing are:
- I am working on eventually growing my program into an animal therapy ranch, where I will purchase a large property and run respite, day programs, and camps all around animal assisted and holistic therapy.
- I am working on a podcast to raise awareness around animal assisted therapy in Western Australia.
- I have just bought my first home, and so am hoping to add some more furry creatures to the animal therapy team!
- I am currently a Youth Ambassador for the Mental Health Foundation of Australia, I hope to work with them to run more mental health awareness and education events in WA!
- I am hoping to be able to do animal assisted therapy full time!