Westport Girl Scout's project is 'Silver' lining for stroke patients
When most people think of Girl Scouts, the first thought is often about the scouts' annual cookie sales.
But there is more to being a Girl Scout than cookies. For those who strive for the Silver Award, the middle school equivalent of the Eagle Scout badge in Boy Scouts, one requirement is a 40-plus-hour community service project that has a lasting impact on the community it serves.
Sophie Call, a Bedford Middle School student and Cadette Scout in Troop 50069, to earn a Silver Award, has launched an initiative to help people who have suffered strokes. For those with aphasia the aftermath of a stroke, reading can be difficult. A patient sometimes is able to read only a word or two at a time, so trying to comprehend a or chapter or a full book is a challenge.
People with aphasia can process only straightforward sentences and basic vocabulary. That's where Sophie comes in. The voracious reader plans to read seven books and outline them chapter by chapter to create reading guides for people with aphasia. The outlines are designed to help patients with aphasia to read with some support and guidance.
Sophie, who completed seventh grade Wednesday, expects to read two to three books, and have their outlines done, before the end of summer. She will wrap up the project during the next school year.
Why did Sophie choose a community service project to help people with aphasia?
Because it "affects people's ability to read, write and communicate," she said.
In addition, Sophie's mother, Marion, is a speech-language pathologist.
"I love to read and write, and love language and love to study foreign language," said Sophie. "Also, I love helping people. I couldn't imagine not being able to read."
One of the more challenging aspects of the project is choosing the books to outline, she said. The books need to be from a range of genres, interesting to a diverse group of people and widely available.
"Because the books I outline will be adult books, I need to make sure they are appropriate for me to read," she added.
Sophie has already begun to research aphasia, recently meeting with stroke victims at a clinic in New Haven.
"I really enjoyed listening to what they thought about my project," she said. "They were supportive of my ideas and gave me some ideas of what books to use."
The Silver Award is an honor relatively few middle-school-age Girl Scouts attain. No one in Westport has earned it this year. While summer vacation didn't officially start until Wednesday for Bedford school children, Sophie didn't wait until the academic year ended -- when she will have more free time -- to begin her outlining.
The first book is "Zeitoun" by Dave Eggers, the "Westport Reads" book from last winter, Sophie said. When the next "Westport Reads" books is announced, she plans to outline that book as well.
The project, she hopes, will help "people with aphasia, all over the USA (her outlines will posted online) to be able to enjoy books again, which would improve communication skills and be fun."