Boy lands summer 'dream' job, starts giving back

For his 12th birthday, Shan Gauthier got a lawn mower. The young entrepreneur, who has autism, is putting it to good use, and has already started giving back to the community that supported him.

Shan Gauthier's lawn-care business is really taking off, and so is his self-confidence

When Shan Gauthier, left, decided he wanted to start a lawn-mowing business, his mother, Martine Gauthier, right, turned to Facebook to promote her son's services. The post received thousands of shares. (Fiona Collienne/Radio-Canada)

It's a summertime chore most teens and tweens dread: mowing the lawn.

Not 12-year-old Shan Gauthier, who lives in Alfred Plantagenet.

For his birthday this year, Gauthier, who has autism, received a lawn mower. Now he's in business

"Finally, a dream comes true. I am starting my small grass-cutting business," reads a Facebook message, posted by Gauthier's parents on his behalf, in French.

That original post, meant to drum up a bit of business for the young entrepreneur, was shared more than 5,300 times.

Gauthier's parents have now launched a separate Facebook page for their son's business, called Terra Shan, and said they've been overwhelmed by requests for his landscaping services.

Gauthier has donated $50 of his earnings to a local organization that provides services for people with autism and their families. (Fiona Collienne/Radio-Canada)

He recently cut grass for his first customer, and is now up to six or seven jobs per week.

"I earn money by cutting grass," Gauthier explained in a French-language interview with Radio-Canada. "This is my job."

A job well done

His mother, Martine Gauthier, said for her son, this is about far more than earning a bit of pocket money.

"The goal of the exercise is not just to cut the grass — it's the whole social side. We ask him to introduce himself, to say what he's doing," she said, also in French, adding the physical activity also helps to quell some of her son's anxiety.

Her widely shared Facebook message lets potential customers know that her son can sometimes feel anxious and "always [has] a thousand and one questions," but also ensures a job well done.

Martine Gauthier said several landscaping companies have even offered to help.

"There have been companies … who have offered him an edging cutter," she said. "I have one gentleman from Sherbrooke who gave us a small trailer to put the mower in."

Paying it forward

Shan Gauthier is already paying it forward, donating $50 to a local organization that offers programs for people with autism.

Martine Gauthier said she's noticed her son has more confidence since going into business, and said he's proud of what he's accomplished.

"I don't know if he realizes how his story will be a ray of hope for other families and other autistic children," she said.

With files from Radio-Canada's Fiona Collienne and Jérôme Bergeron

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