Solid foundation for Green Bay sophomore
GREEN BAY (WLUK) -- A sophomore from Notre Dame Academy in Green Bay is making a difference by helping those who share her learning disability.
She's turning a hurdle for herself into a helping hand for others.
Caragan Olles admits school work has been frustrating for her at times.
“I got very down on myself," says Olles.
In 3rd grade she was diagnosed with a mild form of dyslexia. She says it was hard to distinguish between the letters B and D, or M and W, because she couldn’t match the sound associated with a letter to its actual look.
“I started thinking, 'Oh, I’m not smart, I’m not as smart as the other kids who are finishing these math problems and know their English words like super quickly,'" says Olles.
But she says she’s been lucky because she received tutoring at a young age.
Four years ago she decided others should have that same opportunity. That’s when she formed Bright Young Dyslexics with her brother Carter.
“I was talking with my dyslexia tutor about kids that were coming to her but not able to afford the tutoring because it is very, very expensive," say Olles. "We just felt that we really needed to do something about it. We needed to help out community and give back.”
Olles also credits her teachers along the way, including her chemistry teacher from last year, Andrea Heardon, who formatted tests differently for Olles or other students who had trouble learning the traditional way. Now Olles is paying it forward.
“I think it’s amazing that Caragan and her brother Carter are looking to help students all over the area, not just helping themselves," says Heardon. "And most students at that age can’t possibly think that far beyond their own lives so it’s really impressive to see that in such a young student.”
Bright Young Dyslexics now provides assisted technology to K-12 students in Wisconsin, plus funding for tutoring so others can get the tools they need to succeed. From dinner auctions to donations and everything in between the foundation has raised more than $80,000.
“I would love for everybody to look at their life that way, and not just say, ‘What can I do for myself but what can I do for others,’” says Heardon.
For a career, Olles has her sights set on the sciences. But she’s already developed a winning foundation formula she’d like to continue.
“I’d like to keep growing from state to state as I travel throughout college and the rest of my life," says Olles.
Heardon says, even before Olles started at Notre Dame Academy, she gave a presentation to teachers at the school. Olles explained what it’s like to have dyslexia, and its learning challenges. Hearden says it’s a lesson she still thinks about every day.