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Student earns Girl Scouts’ highest award for program revamp

May 19, 2018

GAINESVILLE, Ga. (AP) — Alyssa Yarck took after her grandmother, Sue Yarck, like a lot of kids do. She joined the Girl Scouts of the United States of America as a Daisy when she was in kindergarten and has come a long way since.

The Chestatee High graduate and current University of North Georgia student recently was recognized with the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest award the organization bestows, for updating a system in place at Hall County Central Communications years ago but went away after funding for it ran out.

The new program is called Assisting Special Kids’ Needs and Other Technologies, known as A.S.K.N.O.T.

The system is pretty simple, but important. Parents of medically fragile students can fill out a form with their child’s information given to the school nurse. That information is put into an alert system. If an emergency arises, such as a fire, first responders will be notified about the child and his or her needs so they are prepared when they enter the school. Parents also have the option to add a home address so the same information is available in case of an emergency at their home.

“I chose this project because I really like serving kids, and my dad’s a fireman so it was the perfect mesh,” Yarck said. “Originally we were just going to restart the other program, but it was easier to just redo everything and remake the forms.”

Being a part of the Girl Scouts and creating A.S.K.N.O.T. helped Yarck get in touch with the two things she loves most: kids and serving.

″(Girl Scouts) do a lot of serving,” she said. “And personally, I like kids the best. But we serve basically anywhere.”

She said she started the work in 2015 and finished last September. Perfecting every aspect of the system to make sure it worked well and as many people as possible knew about it was important.

That’s where Mamie Coker came in. She’s the health services coordinator for Hall County Schools, and was able to organize all the information through the schools. She believes the program truly helps in an emergency.

“Minutes and seconds matter,” Coker said. “Think about our more rural communities and transport times. When EMTs or medics get there, just having all the immediate knowledge so they can treat the immediate medical needs, specific to the student, is important.”

Yarck wanted to make sure all kids in the county had the chance to be put into the system, so she had some of the firefighters get in touch with families they knew could take advantage of A.S.K.N.O.T.

“This is something every school system and fire services in the whole state of Georgia should do,” Coker said. “Even though there’s not any state funding for this, this is something simple they all could do.”

Creating the program wasn’t easy. Yarck was essentially taking an old method and trying to make it easier and more understandable to give more people access to it.

She said Capt. Bobby Ogletree, emergency medical services coordinator with Hall County Fire Services, was there to help. Two others came before Ogletree, and each time someone new came along, she had to explain things again and make sure everything was headed in the right direction.

“I’m definitely proud of it this,” Yarck said. “It’s the thing that I’m most proud of just because it took so much time.”

Ogletree said A.S.K.N.O.T. is an important program because rescue comes first, and he welcomes any information that makes that job easier. He said the only struggle could be making sure the system is updated each year.

After the program had been completed and everything was in place, Ogletree took Yarck around to different fire stations so she could introduce herself and explain how it works.

“I was always very impressed with Alyssa because she is very mature for her age and she already has a destination picked for her plan in life, and she’s doing things that really add up,” Ogletree said. “She maintains soccer, babysitting and academics, so I think she’s well-rounded and thought-out and certainly focused.”

Yarck has her grandmother to thank for encouraging her to be a Girl Scout in the first place. Sue Yarck was there when Alyssa earned her award Sunday, May 6, and said it was “a great feeling” seeing her on stage talking about everything she had done. She’s proud of all the work her granddaughter has accomplished over the years, but it comes as no surprise that she created something like A.S.K.N.O.T. to help kids.

“She just has an interest in children,” said Sue Yarck, who was her granddaughter’s troop leader, either part time or full time, for 13 years. “She draws to them and they draw to her. And it just makes it easy. They have a trust with her and her with them.”

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Information from: The Times, http://www.gainesvilletimes.com

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