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Tampa Girl Scout with dyslexia builds reading kits to help kids just like her

Gillen teamed with Richard Gonzmart, United Way
Posted at 4:34 AM, Sep 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-21 12:57:59-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Mariana Gillen knows what it's like to feel different, to feel as if she's reading a different school book than other kids in her class.

"It was hard when I was younger," says Mariana. "But dyslexia can't stop anyone. Dyslexia is a superpower."

The 14-year-old Tampa girl is teaming up with the United Way Suncoast and legendary restaurateur Richard Gonzmart to distribute M.A.R.I Kits -- that is, "Making Awesome Reading Improvement" kits.

This remarkable Girl Scout needed a project for her Silver Award. So she decided to look within, helping kids with dyslexia just like her.

Each M.A.R.I. Kit contains headphones to help students concentrate and focus, a word tile game, a whiteboard and more.

Gonzmart, who funded the project, also has dyslexia. It is something he didn't fully grasp until later in life.

"At the age of 43, I realized that, what I had considered a disability, wasn't," said Gonzmart.

The United Way Suncoast will now distribute the kits to area kids.

For more on M.A.R.I. Kits, click here.