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Asperger's American Heritage Girl Serves Veterans

Contact: Jody Token, 513-771-2025

CINCINNATI, Ohio, Dec. 19, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ -- "Autistic people who struggle with speech and talking to people ... they don't talk to strangers and they certainly don't get up in front of the city council and present anything."

But that's exactly what 17 year-old Lydia Bishop did. And in front of more than one hundred people, Lydia presented her idea for a Veterans Day parade to honor her grandfather and other Veterans.

The city council approved her request. The Lake Dallas, Texas community enjoyed its first Veterans Day parade this fall.

Lydia was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome as a young girl, but has learned to overcome her fears in a faith-based extracurricular program called American Heritage Girls (AHG). With an emphasis on Christian values and family involvement, Lydia participates in badge programs, service projects, leadership opportunities and outdoor experiences.

AHG troop TX0191 leader, Ellen Samek described Lydia as a quiet girl when she joined AHG. "Three years ... she has come from not talking to anybody, to now making presentations. And that's what AHG has been and made a difference in her life and in ours," says Samek.

Lydia is earning her Stars and Stripes Award, the highest award earned in the AHG program. Lydia's story of overcoming autism and honoring Veterans has inspired girls in the AHG program.

AHG has experienced a 68 percent growth rate in new troops, according to the AHG membership department, and a 59 percent growth in overall membership in 2012.

"Families are seeking a confidence-building activity for their daughters," says Patti Garibay AHG founder and executive director. "AHG continues to resonate with families because it helps girls realize their God-given potential to become women of integrity."

Watch Lydia's inspiring story on YouTube's AHGchannel

American Heritage Girls is a faith-based character development program for all girls 5 - 18 years of age. AHG is dedicated to the mission of building women of integrity through service to God, family, community and country. Founded in 1995 in Cincinnati, Ohio, AHG has grown from ten troops and 100 members to more than 22,000 members across four countries and 48 U.S. states. With emphasis on Christian values and family involvement, girls participate in badge programs, service projects, leadership opportunities and outdoor experiences.