A new adaptive swing is ready for the Jawonio playground, where young children with disabilities and special needs come for recreation and exercise, thanks to a generous donation from 17-year-old Caitlyn Murphy. The donation was Murphy’s Girl Scout Gold Award project, the highest recognition awarded to girl scouts for community service.
The swing is equipped with rainbow straps that cross the child across the chest and across the waist with two snap buckles for added safety. The seat itself is molded to hug the child’s body, another safety feature. The swing now joins a play house, a play set with a slide, and some toys at Jawonio. Donations from the Slatter-Jett Myers Foundation helped fund these structures.
Murphy, a graduate of Tappan Zee High School, has achieved a goal set by most girl scouts but completed by few - she has finished her Gold Award project. The final step, which involves an evaluation by a Girl Scout council, will take place in late August and will make her award official.
She had to choose a community issue and a solution for that issue, a solution that would “achieve sustainable and measurable impact,” according to the Girl Scouts of the USA guidelines.
“My brother went here when he was little so I wanted to give back,” Murphy said of Jawonio.
Murphy consulted with Jerry Staller, director of Children’s Services, on what she could do to benefit his division. The two browsed Flag House magazine for ideas.
Available money in the end was the deciding factor. Murphy held a garage sale to raise funds.
“Everything went out that I could possibly get out!” laughed Murphy’s mom, Catherine Boscher-Murphy.
Fortunately, Murphy collected over $900, significantly more than the $500 she was expecting, allowing her to dream big.
“I just wanted to have enough money to buy something,” explainedMurphy, who shares that the total amount raised was “a pleasant surprise”.
Staller informed Murphy of the playground’s contents. A key structure seemed to be missing.
“What’s a playground without a swing?” Murphy had thought.
Murphy organized everything herself, from creating flyers to ordering the swing, as is characteristic of Gold Award recipients. She did have the support of a mentor, Ellie Salmon, her parents, Catherine Boscher-Murphy and Michael Murphy, her troop leader, Gale Henry-Flynn, and the seven other girls in her troop.
Murphy’s accomplishment was celebrated Thursday. A sign in her honor will be displayed by the swing.
“Caitlyn is the most patient and nicest person to work with,” said Staller at the ceremony.
“You have hope that the next generation will have such a mindset, such a heart,” added Executive Director of Jawonio, Jill Warner.
Caitlyn’s mom thinks that the years of service as a girl scout instills values in members that become second-nature.
“They all have it in their brains that this is what they do,” she said.
Murphy has been a girl scout since 1999, when she joined as a first grader. Back then, 14 other girls were in her troop.
Murphy’s achievement is rare not only because few girls continue girl scouts through high school, but also because the few that continue very rarely take on the Gold Award project.
“She’s the only one in our service unit community - out of 12 graduating seniors,” said Henry-Flynn.
Murphy explained that her decision to go for the Gold Award was simple.
“I’ve always been really motivated to do things with the troop,” she saai. After so many years of participating, she felt “all these years would be wasted” if she did not push to the end.
Murphy is not only a girl scout but a tennis player and a flute player. She currently works at King Kone and will be attending Marist College in the fall.