Monday, September 17, 2012

Girl Scout Turns Teacher's Death Into Public Awareness Campaign

In Tennessee, The Leaf Chronicle reports that Girl Scout Skylar Hughes is turning a very tragic situation into a public awareness campaign while working toward earning her Girl Scout Gold Award.

Skylar's former Middle School physical education teacher Kathryn “Katy” Elizabeth Over and her husband Jonathan Michael Over died along with three others – Timothy Bryan Stone, James Franklin Wall II and Wall’s girlfriend Allison Elizabeth Bagwell-Wyatt – in a carbon monoxide poisoning accident while attending last year’s Leslie W. Watson Memorial Toy Run at the Clarksville Speedway.

All five were found dead in a recreational vehicle the Sunday morning of the festival weekend. The Tennessee medical examiner found over 45 percent carbon monoxide saturation levels in their blood.

Skylar started in on her research, which came mainly from the Centers for Disease Control. Skylar said she made posters of pictures and charts and a lime green flier, “which was Katy’s favorite color.”

The carbon monoxide awareness flier talks about the “invisible killer,” how it is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas. It explains what can cause the gas, shows a chart of a home and where the potential sources are, and finally what you can do to prevent and be aware of gases. Skylar presented these fliers at Green Day Clarksville.

Next, she got in touch with Roy Gregory, Executive Director of University Advancement at Austin Peay State University, and through Gregory and her mother, she set up a scholarship for those wanting to go into health and human performance as a career – Katy’s degree.

Skylar eventually got in touch with Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillan, Montgomery County Mayor Carolyn Bowers, state Rep. Joe Pitts and state Sen. Tim Barnes.

Pitts said Skylar approached Barnes and himself and asked how the community might honor the memory of those five on Sept. 18 each year by raising awareness of the carbon monoxide poisoning that caused their deaths.

“Skylar is a very dynamic young lady,” Pitts said. “She is a person who wants to be involved in turning tragedy into opportunity for the community.”

They presented the idea to Gov. Bill Haslam, who has designated Sept. 18 Carbon Monoxide Awareness Day in the state of Tennessee.