Written by:Monica Gonzales
5/4/2010 2:44 PM 

 Ashton Gepfert has probably made a bigger impact than she knows. Gepfert, a Girl Scout Ambassador in pursuit of the Girl Scout Gold Award, created the program Defining Differences, which is now being implemented in schools and work places.

The program was created to inform members of the community about different disabilities, both visible and invisible. Gepfert says that she designed the program to connect individuals, families and teachers with organizations that work with disabilities that can offer support, information and or guidance.
Ashton has an outgoing personality regardless of her severe to profound hearing loss bilaterally.
“I know that individuals are not defined by their disability,” Gepfert said.   “It is what they do with it and who they become in spite of it that can impact our community.” 
During the course of this project, Gepfert worked with various city councils and government agencies to implement her program in those cities.  After being introduced to “Defining Differences” the city of Parker is currently creating an implementation plan to help individuals with disabilities notify 9-1-1 so that First Responders will know that the caller is disabled before responding to a call at a specific location.  
“When others in our community take the time to connect with someone that has a disability and look beyond that disability to the heart of the person, our community is better for it,” Gepfert said. She estimates that through her program, she has been able to serve about 400 people or more.
“My project went beyond the initial scope and reached more individuals than expected,” Gepfert said.
Teachers that would like to implement the program at their school can request the Teacher Resource Kit and the Hands-On Kit which includes resource videos. The Teacher Resource Kits will reach teachers in Allen, Prosper, Wichita Falls, Midlothian, Waxahachie and Frisco.
Defining Differences has not only helped members of her community, but Gepfert has learned a great deal since she started the program. “I was finally able to feel comfortable speaking about my hearing impairment and my struggles,” Gepfert said. “By finding my voice, I was able to use my struggles to help others in the community with similar stuggles.”

Ashton is honored to be an Ambassador Girl Scout and is in her 10th year in Girl Scouts. Ashton is currently a junior at Allen High School where she is a member of the National Honor Society. She is an active member of Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA), manager for the Allen High School Girls Varsity Soccer team and in the Peer Assistant Leadership Skills (PALS) program. She enjoys helping others and making a difference and wants to go to college to become a Paramedic.

Ashton is one of 119 Northeast Texas Girl Scouts who earned their GS Gold Award this year. The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest award that a Girl Scout may earn. It represents 80 hours or more of leadership effort to execute a community service project that makes a sustainable and measurable impact and serves to educate and inspire others. To learn more about Girl Scouts’ highest honors including the Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards please click here .


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