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Prescott Valley Tribune | Prescott Valley, Arizona

home : features : features January 25, 2015

8/27/2014 8:42:00 AM
Gold Award project's focus is thoughtless actions toward classmates with Asperger's

Sue Tone

When Sarah Jones started her freshman year at Bradshaw Mountain High School, her sister Erin Wadsworth was a senior.

"When I saw her on campus, she was often alone, made fun of, or ignored," Sarah said, explaining that Erin has Asperger's disorder, a mild form of autism. "I realized it was not obvious to others, and Erin didn't realize she was being bullied."

Sarah, a 2014 Bradshaw graduate, presented to the BMHS SIT council on Aug. 19 a 9-minute video she produced as her Girl Scout Gold Award project. The video encourages high school students to interact with and involve themselves with students with disabilities, even when a disability is not always visible.

The Gold Award, equivalent to the Eagle Scout award for Boy Scouts, requires 80 hours of work, leadership skills, and the engagement of fellow Girl Scouts and community members. Sarah called her project B.R.I.D.G.E. or Being Reminded to Involve Different Groups (Encouragement).

The video and brochure presents facts on autism and includes an interview with school psychologist Georgia Benyk and six suggestions on how to approach students with Asperger's.

"They may want friends, they may want people to talk to; but because of the way their body language appears and because of the way they behave, people misjudge their body language and their cues, so they end up being loners and isolated," Benyk said.

"That is why it is so important for people to understand what Asperger's is, what it looks like, and to approach these people and engage them and help them be a part of the school community."

Sarah's suggestions for classmates include:

• Offer a friendly smile.

• Walk with them to common classes.

• Invite them to sit with you at lunch.

• Invite them to join you in conversations.

• Find out their interests.

• Ask them to be your partner for group projects.

BMHS Principal Kort Miner said a shorter, 3-minute version of the video would be shown to all high school students during upcoming morning announcements.

To view the entire video, visit For more information, contact Sarah Jones at, and include "BRIDGE" in the subject line.

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