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Girl Scout out to help COPD sufferers

Posted: July 24, 2012 - 5:53pm  |  Updated: July 25, 2012 - 9:54am
Olivia Bernard gives Russell Kennedy some information at a COPD event at the Wilson Family Y in Augusta. The North Augusta Girl Scout is working on her Gold Award, the highest a Girl Scout can earn.  JACKIE RICCIARDI/STAFF
JACKIE RICCIARDI/STAFF
Olivia Bernard gives Russell Kennedy some information at a COPD event at the Wilson Family Y in Augusta. The North Augusta Girl Scout is working on her Gold Award, the highest a Girl Scout can earn.

 

Girl Scout Olivia Bernard has set out on a mission to help educate people about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

“My mom is a respiratory therapist, so I’ve always had the knowledge of different lung diseases and respiratory diseases,” said the 14-year-old. “I feel like I should spread that knowledge.”

Olivia is a rising sophomore at Aquinas High School and a member of Girl Scout Troop 5083 in North Augusta. To earn her Gold Award, the highest award a Girl Scout can receive, Olivia held a DRIVE4COPD event at the Wilson Family Y in Augusta on July 16.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a lung disease that restricts airflow and includes lung diseases such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema and asthma.

The event gave people the opportunity to take a five-question screener to determine their risk for the disease. Arlene Bernard, Olivia’s mother, would then provide a spirometry test to those whose results showed significant risk.

“This helps because they can take the information my mom writes down and take it to their doctor for follow-up,” said Olivia.

She also created a Web site, www.COPDprevention.org, as a resource to help others learn more about COPD, its treatment and how to prevent it.

“I hope they will be able to use the information I have given them to make their lives better and to make other people’s lives better,” she said. “Maybe even save their life if they don’t know they have it and they can start preventing it from getting worse.”

Olivia began doing research for the event in March and had to present her planned project to a committee for approval. Now that she has held the event, the next step is to go back before the committee and present the results of the project and what she learned in order to receive the Gold Award.

“It’s been a great learning experience,” she said of hosting the event. “You have to learn how to organize and plan and coordinate other people. I had to get a location and advertise. It’s something that, even in school, you don’t have to deal with as much, so it’s been a great learning experience.”

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