SPRINGFIELD, NJ –Caitlynn McTernan will be a senior at Jonathan Dayton High School in September.  Right now, she is focused on completing her Girl Scout Gold Award Project. 

The Girl Scout Gold Award Webpage says, “The Girl Scout Gold Award is the most prestigious award in the world for girls—and the most difficult to earn—and it’s only available to Girl Scouts.”

According to Caitlynn, her project is meant “…to raise awareness on how assistive technology can help kids with learning disabilities.”   Specifically, she said, “I am creating an Assistive Technology Lending Library at the Springfield Free Public Library. I will be donating iPads with apps targeted towards a number of different learning disabilities, as well as non-technology tools that help with auditory processing and handwriting.  The iPads will be available to check out, just as someone would check out a book. I will provide a manual that gives basic instructions on how to use each app, as well as the learning disability that each app targets, and the price of the app.”

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Her inspiration for the project is her brother Collin, who she says “Has autism, dyslexia, ADHD, and a number of other learning disabilities that have always made learning a huge struggle for him.  Dysgraphia, which is a disability in writing, has proven to be one of the biggest struggles for my brother.  At 13, his handwriting is similar to that of a four-year-old and so he relies heavily on assistive technology to keep up in school. I have watched my mom spend countless hours as well as a lot of money researching and trying out possible apps to help him.”

As part of the project, Caitlynn is creating a website which will also have a link to this manual as well as other valuable resources and links.

A Gold Award project must help one's community and must also be sustainable. The approval process includes a lengthy proposal and an interview in front of the Girl Scout Council.  Caitlynn did that and also presented her project to Springfield Library's Board of Trustees.

For a Girl Scout, achieving the Gold Award is similar in scope to becoming an Eagle Scout as a Boy Scout.  Only about five percent of Girl Scouts successfully complete the award.  The award is an individual award which requires a minimum of 80 hours of time to compete. Most recipients take one to two years to complete their project.

As part of the effort Caitlynn said, “I had to create a team who would support me through the process. My team includes my brother Collin, my Girl Scout Troop Leader Cristi Knee and Springfield Free Public Library's Director, Dale Spindel, and I am grateful for all of their support.” 

Dale Splindel Library Director said, “It’s been a pleasure working with Caitlynn on a project that will definitely be a benefit to many in the community.  I look forward to being able to provide resources that can assist many people with learning disabilities as a regular library service.”

Girl Scouts are not able to solicit cash donations to fund their Gold Award Project.  So, Caitlynn will be holding fundraisers and writing grants to cover the significant cost of the IPADS, apps, and non-tech items.  She has already had one bake sale.

In order to provide all of the materials that will be a part of the lending library, Caitlynn obviously needs to raise a lot of money. While she is not allowed to solicit cash donations, she can accept donations of goods or gift cards.  Any donations of gently used or new iPads, chargers, cases, pencil grips/weights, or apple gift cards would be greatly appreciated. Her email is caitlynnmcternan@aol.com.

Caitlynn has been a Girl Scout for 13 years as a member of Troop 40-739. As a troop, they have done many community service projects, including "Planting for Promise" to raise awareness for pediatric cancer. She earned her Silver Award in October 2015.  

At Jonathan Dayton she is Student Council President and a member of the National Honor Society.  She is also plays on a Dayton sports team every season.  In the fall she plays soccer, followed by basketball in the winter and track in the spring.  So far, she has three letters in each sport.