Girl Scouts from around Westchester County, including Chappaqua, got a chance Monday to learn about patient therapy at Blythedale Children's Hospital.
The annual workshop, which the Chappaqua troop has been helping with for six years, gave scouts an inside look into the various therapy programs offered at the Valhalla therapeutic center, including occupational and speech therapies, and nutrition and fitness.
This year's workshop was particularly important for Chappaqua scout Julia Desmarais. A junior at Horace Greeley High School, she got to run the event as part of the process for earning a Gold Award. Her fellow scouts in the troop helped lead groups of scouts from other communities through different therapy stations.
“We love it here," said Desmarais, who has been coming to Blythedale for years as a scout. Aside from the workshop, Desmarais is doing other work at the hospital as part of pursuing her Gold Award, including improvement of the kids' clothing closests. The Chappaqua scouts, in past years, have performed tasks at Blythedale including decorating the hospital for the holidays, planting flowers and playing with children who use the facility.
“So it's been a lot of different things," Desmarais said.
The Chappaqua troop, which has had an operating role of the workshop each year, was joined by scout troops from several neighboring communities. They included Briarcliff, Croton, Peekskill, Tarrytown, Lakeland and a joint Bedford-Armonk troop.
“It's an awesome, wonderful program," said Jan Phair, one of the Croton cadet leaders.
Laura Desmarais, who is Julia's mother and a troop leader, said there have been a lot of changes to the workshop over the years, with feedback from the scouts. New this year is a tour of the hospital, which is in addition to the scouts having the workshop in the space of Blythedale's special education school for patients. Scouts also got to meet hospital patients, which Laura Desmarais felt is rewarding because it can allow for them to become familiar with their situations.
Being involved with the workshop can also help scouts in their own lives, Julia and Laura Desmarais explained.
Julia Desmarais talked about how scouts can make a connection between what they're learning about and what can be happening with people they know who are in similar situations as the patients.
“So they're really excited about finding the connections between themselves and what's going on here at Blythedale, which I think is amazing," she said
Laura Desmarais noted that what is learned at Blythedale could spark a career interest, describing her own anecdote of learning from a Briarcliff scout about her new interest in vision therapy.