Eagle Scout Andrew McCourt wanted to make a difference with his Eagle Scout project. Inspired by his sister, a Special Olympics athlete, McCourt sought to give back to Special Olympics Massachusetts since he and his sister had benefited so much. The following is an interview with McCourt by SOMA Sports Intern Eric Archambault.
E.A.: How long have you been a member of the Scouts?
Andrew McCourt: I joined cub scouts when I was in the second grade, as a wolf scout.
E.A.: Do you participate in any other activities or clubs either at your school or in your local community?
Andrew McCourt: I go to Masconomet Regional High School in Topsfield. I am on the varsity wrestling team in the winter and the football team in the fall.
E.A.: What has been your favorite memory as a member of the Scouts?
Andrew McCourt: My best memories are the two trips that my troop took to West Point, to the annual Scout Jamboree there. I was also very proud to be elected Senior Patrol Leader for my troop this year.
E.A.: When did you start the application process of becoming an Eagle Scout?
Andrew McCourt: August, 2012.
E.A.: Tell me a little bit about the sandwich boards that you have created for SOMA.
Andrew McCourt: They are made of a PVC pipe frame with a whiteboard on one side and a blackboard on the other. SOMA is able to use either whiteboard markers or chalk, depending on what they have available.
E.A.: Why did you choose to complete your Eagle Scout project for SOMA?
Andrew McCourt: My older sister Elizabeth, age 21, has intellectual disabilities and has been actively involved in SOMA since age 11. She has competed at the world level for figure skating and the national level for swimming. She is also a SOMA Global Messenger. I wanted to do a project that would give back to SOMA since my sister has benefited so greatly.
E.A.: What was the most challenging obstacle you had to overcome while completing the project?
Andrew McCourt: Ensuring that I had enough volunteers to complete the project on each work day, since my project was scheduled around the holidays.
E.A.: What is the most important thing that you have learned or taken away from the process of completing your Eagle Scout project?
Andrew McCourt: I have learned how to organize and lead a project that involved a large group of people.
Andrew McCourt: I am happy that I am so close to finishing in the middle of my sophomore year, because the next couple of years are going to be busy for me with academics and sports.
E.A.: What advice would you give someone who is in the beginning stages of pursuing their Eagle Scout rank?
Andrew McCourt: Start early!
The following is an interview by Eric Archambault who spoke with Special Olympic Massachusetts’s Sports Manager Andrew MacLeay, on how McCourt’s sandwich boards will be used.
E.A.: How will the sandwich boards that Andrew created be utilized at upcoming events such as the Winter and Summer Games’ this year?
Andrew MacLeay: They will be used for many purposes at each of the venues that will host events such as the Winter and Summer Games. Since these boards are double-sided with a chalkboard on one side and a whiteboard on the other, information such as event schedules, lunch schedules, directions and other miscellaneous information will be written on each side for participants, volunteers and spectators can see. Printed material will also be able to be clamped on to each of the boards.
E.A.: How will these sandwich boards be more helpful in comparison to the old sandwich boards that were used in the past?
Andrew MacLeay: These new boards will be extremely helpful, since the old ones were very old and splintery since they were made solely out of wood. These new sandwich boards will not require staples like the old boards did to post information, and will be much easier to clamp written material to. Information will also be able to be communicated easier since both sides of the boards can either be written on with dry erase markers or chalk. There is a greater quantity of sandwich boards now, and they are lighter than the old sandwich boards, which makes for easier transportation.
E.A.: What does it mean to have people like Andrew donate their time and energy to Special Olympics?
Andrew MacLeay: Since Special Olympics Massachusetts is a non-profit organization we try to stretch every dollar that we invest into our equipment or materials. Andrew taking the time help benefit our organization by making these new sandwich boards is a huge help and will certainly help things run much more smoothly during our upcoming events. We cannot thank him enough for his generosity and hard work that he put into this project and its people like Andrew that give SOMA such a tremendous reputation.