By Wendy Brown (USAG Wiesbaden)October 18, 2011
WIESBADEN, Germany - Being a child alone in a hospital can be a scary situation no matter what, but not knowing the language can make it even scarier.
For military children in Germany, who often must go off post for medical care, any hospital stay can make that situation a reality. As much as parents would like to be present for a child's entire stay, that isn't always possible.
So Erin Fry, 17, came up with a solution to help children who spend time alone in German hospitals.
For her Girl Scout Gold Award project, she created a booklet that contains German language help and activities to help keep young people occupied.
The Gold Award is the highest honor in Girl Scouts, similar to the Eagle Scout award in Boy Scouts.
The result of her project, the Children's Hospital Book, comes in a brightly colored binder with friendly looking stickers on the front. Inside is a pencil, a pack of crayons, a small toy and 20 pages of information and activities.
The Wiesbaden Community Spouses Club helped make the project possible by providing grant money, Fry said.
Fry said she printed 130 of the booklets, and gave 110 of them to the Wiesbaden Army Health Clinic. Patient liaisons can give them out to patients, and patients can also request them.
After a short introduction, the book starts out with a picture of a skeleton and arrows that point to various parts of the skeleton. The book tells readers 28 parts of the body in English and German, including how to say "my" before each body part.
Next are a series of phrases, such as how to say, "I have a sore throat." The book also includes how to ask questions, such as, "Where is the pharmacy?"
The rest of the book contains a variety of crossword puzzles, scrambled words and color by the numbers (which teaches youths their colors in German), and other activities in varying degrees of difficulty.
The book even contains a list of interesting facts about the human body, such as the fact that babies are born without kneecaps, which develop between the ages of 2 and 6.
The booklet is the first of its kind in the U.S. military community in Europe, Fry said.
The Wiesbaden Health Clinic has a Guide to Host Nation Health Care on its website, but that is for adults, Fry said. Anyone interested can find the adult guide at http://ermc.amedd.army.mil/wiesbaden/index.cfm.
Fry received her Gold Award at a ceremony Sept. 25. She had to keep track of the number of hours she worked on the project, and they tallied to 98, she said.
Her award is only the fifth Gold Award recorded in the Wiesbaden military community, and four of them have been awarded in the past four years.
Fry is a senior at Wiesbaden High School, and plans to attend the University of Northern Colorado next year. Ultimately, she hopes to earn a master's degree in accounting.
She has lived in Germany for five years.
Girl Scouts have been a part of her life for the past 13 years, she said, and she is currently an assistant Brownie leader. As soon as she turns 18 in January, she hopes to become a Girl Scout leader.
"Girl Scouts is something I want to be involved in for the rest of my life," Fry said.