Gardner-Dickinson alumna Brigid Mack is currently working on her Girl Scout Gold Award for the Wynantskill Community Special Education Parent-Teacher Association (SEPTA).
The Gold Award, the highest achievement within the Girl Scouts, can be earned by Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts. Those who earn the Gold Award take on matters that are close to the heart and drive lasting change in their communities.
For Mack’s Gold Award, she has implemented “COVID Sense.” The project focuses on helping special needs children with COVID-19 regulations. Mack created sensory bags that include social stories/visual aids about mask wearing and hand hygiene and sensory toys for calming when frustrated or upset.
“Keeping a mask on in public and always staying six feet away from others can be difficult for anyone to always remember, and it’s even harder for children with disabilities who are used to a normal routine,” said Mack. “With the use of social stories, kids can be reminded of the rules they need to follow in a fun and useful way. If they are in a stressful situation, they have sensory toys they can rely on to cope with their surroundings.”
Mack noted the importance for children with anxiety or sensory needs to have their own set of sensory toys since toys cannot be shared in schools at this time due to the ongoing pandemic.
For the project’s launch, Mack held a bag distribution event at a community playground, which she says was her favorite part of the project. She believes the bags brightened kids’ spirits.
“It was a way for me to connect with (the kids), and I think I was able to reach them through kindness and concern for their wellbeing during this pandemic,” said Mack. “I think it was also inspiring to SEPTA because they now have a mission to continue this project after my part is done. They now see that the sensory bags are making children in the community happy, and hopefully more efforts like this will be made as people are being vaccinated and society may return to a degree of normalcy.”