Teen's book promotes Autism awareness

Piccotti writes book as part of Girl Scout Gold Award project

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— Sparta teenager Krista Piccotti recently earned her Girl Scout Gold Award by writing a fictional story about a boy with an autism spectrum disorder. Her goal was to raise awareness of autism among teens and young adults.

The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest award a Girl Scout can earn and requires the completion of a leadership project of at least 80 hours. Each girl must discover an issue in the community, connect with experts and community members, and take action to effect positive change.

“I chose this project because the cause is important to me and I wanted to do something meaningful with my writing,” Piccotti said.

The book, entitled “The Outcast,” is about a high school girl who bonds with a boy as she confides in him about the troubles of high school. As they get to know each other, the girl discovers the boy has Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder.

“My project focused on the lack of awareness of autism spectrum disorders among teenagers and young adults,” Piccotti said. “My aim was to benefit society as a whole, as well as those who suffer from ASD. I hope those are struggling with ASD know that they are not alone.”

“The Outcast” is available on Amazon.com for just the cost of printing and shipping.

Piccotti hopes it will raise awareness of autism and reduce the stigma that those with ASD face.

Piccotti graduated from Sparta High School in June 2014. She is currently a first-year student at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., where she is pursuing a degree in media studies and creative writing. She has been a Girl Scout in Troop No. 266 since kindergarten.

“Girl Scouts inspired me to follow my dreams,” she said.

The Girl Scout Gold Award combines leadership development, career exploration and community service. It culminates in an 80-hour leadership project that each girl plans and executes according to her own interests and passions. Within Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey, 12 percent of eligible girls earn their Girl Scout Gold Award, compared to the national average of six percent, according to a Girl Scout's news release.

Girl Scouts is a leadership development program for girls. In Girl Scouts, girls discover themselves, connect with others, and take action to create positive change in their own communities. For more information about Girl Scouts, call Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey at 973-248-8200. Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey serves 20.5 percent of girls ages 5-18 in 160 municipalities including all of Bergen, Morris, Passaic, and Sussex counties and the northern half of Warren County. There are currently 30,149 members and 14,828 adult members.

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