Why This Girl Scout Is on a Mission to Get Free Assistive Technology to Kids

Girl Scouts are trained to be leaders who make the world a better place. Caitlynn McTernan is living up to that standard. The high school senior from Springfield, New Jersey, is working to create a local lending library. This effort was inspired by her younger brother Collin, who has dyslexia, dysgraphia, ADHD and autism.

McTernan, who’s been a proud Girl Scout for 13 years, watched how her mother sought help for her brother. His challenges, McTernan said, made learning very difficult for him.

“A lot of my inspiration came from seeing my mom struggle to find technology to help my brother,” she told Understood. “She would spend a lot of money on apps that ended up to not be effective for him. I want to be able to help families not waste money.”

The goal of the lending library is to “raise awareness on how assistive technology can help kids with learning disabilities,” McTernan said. She’ll be donating iPads with apps that can help kids with learning and thinking differences. Kids will be able to check out the iPads for free, like they would a book.

McTernan will provide an instruction manual with information on how to use the apps. She’s also donating accessories like earbuds and pencil grips for children who struggle with auditory processing and handwriting issues.

McTernan is working toward the Girl Scouts Gold Award, the organization’s most prestigious award. To earn it, a Girl Scout commits to a minimum of 80 hours of work on a service project she chooses. She also has to raise money for the project.

McTernan holds fundraisers, like bake sales. And she presents proposals to different organizations about why they should donate iPads and other materials. “I’m most proud of the whole process,” she said. “It’s been really cool for me. And I’m hoping to have the project done by November and December.”

At her New Jersey high school, McTernan is the Student Council President and a member of the National Honor Society. She plans to study psychology in college.

Discover free online assistive technology tools for kids with learning and thinking differences. And explore Tech Finder for apps to help your child with specific challenges.

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About the author

About the author

Tara Drinks is an editor at Understood.