Michaela Pape, a St. Charles High School junior, is the daughter of a physical therapist and knows firsthand how important medical equipment is to patients. Her Girl Scouts Gold Award project is an online medical equipment sale to help those in need of equipment. (submitted photo)
LA PLATA, Md. (January 16, 2019)—The Girl Scout motto of "Be Prepared" calls for a Scout to help out wherever she is needed. Michaela Pape, a St. Charles High School junior, holds the Girl Scout rank of Ambassador and is living up to the motto by launching the Charles County Online Medical Equipment Sale on Facebook.
With her mother being a physical therapist who does home health visits, Pape hears about patients who don't have enough medical equipment, the right pieces or who think it's a luxury to have certain ones. "But it's a necessity," Pape said.
A two-story house can become impossible to navigate for someone with limited mobility. However, with equipment on both levels, life would be easier. Some insurance companies don't consider bathroom safety devices "must need" items, resulting in patients covering equipment costs out of pocket, Pape said. She knows that for some people, using medical equipment is temporary. They rely on it while recovering from surgery or an injury, then it collects dust in a garage or basement. With that in mind, Pape aims to connect the two groups of people.
Pape's medical equipment Facebook page works much like an online yard sale on the social media platform. Users can join the Charles County Online Medical Equipment Sale to list pieces they want to give away or sell. They can join the page to search for items they need. "It connects to people who have with the people who don't have," Pape said.
Jo Anne Roberts, a physical therapist with Charles County Public Schools, said Pape's project makes it easier for patients to access equipment if it is listed on the page. Medical equipment "provides a person with a disability as much independence as they can acquire," Roberts said. "It allows someone the access the community and their home."
Pape set up the group as part of her Gold Award project, the highest award a Girl Scout can achieve. Gold projects should align with the Scout's four national program pillars - Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education, outdoor opportunities, life skills and entrepreneurship. The award criteria include seven steps: identify an issue; investigate it thoroughly; get help and build your team; create a plan; present your plan and gather feedback; take action; and educate and inspire.
The bulk of Pape's project is getting the word out. She created a PowerPoint presentation she uses when talking to groups that can help her boost the signal about the equipment sale page. She has given her presentation at community service organization meetings, assistant living facilities and to groups of medical professionals. Flyers about the project hang in church halls and Panera restaurants.
"The presentations have been wonderful," Pape said. "People are so willing to spread the word. I like how willing and excited people are about it."
Pape credits Girl Scouts with giving her the confidence to go out and make the connections needed to grow the project. And a lot of that comes from cookie sales. "Most people don't know how much that does teach you," she said. "As an 8-year-old, you're talking to adults in a professional setting, you have to be polite and mature. You have to work with money."
The organization is also responsible for broadening Pape's worldview. She has participated in events and has had opportunities because of her involvement with Scouting.
If she earns the Gold Award, Pape could use it to stand out among other college applicants and get scholarships. She wants to study political science in college and is interested in becoming a lobbyist. Right now, she is focused on getting the medical equipment sale page up and running. "I hope the page grows," Pape said. "I hope it gets larger and keeps going and is an actively used page for a while."
The page is at tinyurl.com/y93n5x5k.