When most people think of Girl Scouts, they think of “cookies and camping” — both important components of the Girl Scout experience, of course! But arguably the most impactful part of Girl Scouting is the earning of the Girl Scout Gold Award. Comparable to the Boy Scouts of America’s Eagle Scout, this prestigious award represents the highest achievement in Girl Scouting and challenges girls ages 14 – 17 to initiate meaningful, sustainable change locally, nationally, and/or globally through unique “Take Action” projects of their own creation.
This year, 14 local Girl Scouts created dynamic projects, including support to children in the foster care system, conservation of native species, creating awareness around teen dating violence and much more.
Our research confirms the lifetime benefits for girls of earning the Gold Award and the impact it has on their lives. According to The Power of the Girl Scout Gold Award: Excellence in Leadership and Life, a report by the Girl Scout Research Institute, girls who earn the Gold Award display more positive life outcomes than non-Girl Scout alumnae.
These outcomes pertain to positive sense of self, life satisfaction, leadership, life success, community service, and civic engagement. Other findings from the report include the following:
Gold Award recipients have had more leadership experiences in volunteer activities (66 percent vs. 37 percent of non-alumnae), school (54 percent vs. 39 percent of non-alumnae), the community (50 percent vs. 26 percent of non-alumnae), and politics (21 percent vs. 8 percent of non-alumnae).
Gold Award recipients feel they have had success in their lives (95 percent), their education (94 percent), their
careers (92 percent), and their financial life (78 percent) because of the unique experiences they had and the skills they developed through Girl Scouting.
Over ninety percent of Girl Scouts not only attributed their success in life to Girl Scouts — they also said that belonging to Girl Scouts has had a positive impact on their lives and that they could not have had access to the same experiences anywhere else.
Remember Me—Holocaust Survivors Tell their Stories
Raquel wanted to encourage teens to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive to help prevent similar destruction in the future. Her project aimed to recall the fading memories of Holocaust survivors and bridge the generation gap between survivors and teens. To do this, Raquel created a moving film for teens in which both survivors and teens were interviewed about the Holocaust.
Lotus House Tutoring and Activity Center
Amanda’s project involved creating a tutoring center for Lotus House, a women’s shelter located in Miami. She wanted to provide a tutoring space for children living there so they could focus on their coursework without distraction. Additionally, she wanted to provide tutoring services for the children. She worked with fellow students from her high school to provide tutoring once a week at the shelter.
Conservation of Native Trees in South Florida
Alissa’s project raised awareness of the importance of native plants by identifying and mapping native tree species on the Palmer-Trinity School Campus. The accompanying educational materials, available in the school library and admissions office, encourage the use and protection of plants and trees native to South Florida.
Kidz on the Move
Timaya’s project provided much-needed duffle bags, luggage, and stuffed animals to children in the foster care system. Timaya believes that her duffle bags and stuffed animals will allow children to transition from one place to another much more easily than carrying their items in trash bags.
Share it, Wear It
Annie’s own recent experience with the college application process helped her develop her project to motivate residents of an at-risk youth shelter to apply for college. She began by collecting collegiate sweatshirts and handing them out to residents. Additionally, she hosted multiple workshops where professionals gave residents valuable information about college admissions exams, essays and applications. Annie’s Gold Award project was a key factor in her selection as Florida’s top High School Youth Volunteer in the 2017 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program.
Assistance for a Life Saving Cause
The aim of Vanessa’s project was to create a welcoming and friendly first impression at the South Dade Pregnancy Help Center. This facility offers assistance to pregnant women unsure of their options. Vanessa brightened up the facility with freshly painted walls, new furniture and artwork and a stainless steel sign for the front of the center. This project allowed the women and volunteers in the center to offer life saving assistance and enriched their lives.
Jeans for Teens
Livia’s project addressed an issue foster children frequently face of not having adequate clothing. By instituting this program, she was able to collect clothing and distribute these items to five foster homes for the children. Livia has established a partnership between these foster homes and five different local Key clubs to ensure the supply of clothing continues as needed. Her website Jeansforteens.wordpress.com features a printable brochure and PowerPoint to teach members how simple it is to collect jeans for their foster homes.
Daniel painted a historical mural of the Everglades at the local Easter Seals facility. She painted the wall with chalkboard paint on which she created a drawing of the Everglades. The aim of her project is to provide children with an attractive area that will not only be a beautiful site, but also an interactive one where they can learn about a very special habitat while they color the mural using the chalk she provided.
No More Fears
Dionne focused her project on educating teens and their families about the dangers of teen dating violence, the warning signs of abuse and abusive relationships, and resources for victims of abuse or abusive relationships. Dionne raised awareness through public workshops, social media, and permanent informational signs in city parks and at City Hall.
A'Rawni created Project Comfort, with its goal to provide a supportive, nurturing and structured environment for children separated from their parents who are now living at the Jefferson Reeves House and The Center for Family and Child Enrichment. Due to immigration, divorce, incarceration, death of a guardian, or because the youth are fleeing mental or physical abuse from their parents or guardians, children find themselves in an environment that A'Rawni believes "does more harm than good." A'Rawni equipped both Project Comfort spaces with reading materials and toys as well as an area for parents to interact with their children.
Tops for a Friend
Ma'kia overcame her fear of speaking in public and successfully made presentations at her Girl Scout troop meeting, at band practice, and other club meetings as well as before the Miami Gardens City Council & community leaders from whom she requested their assistance and cooperation to place her decorated baskets at City Hall and in other community buildings. Ma'kia collected thousands of aluminum soda can tops for 25 families to live comfortably for a month at the Ronald McDonald House... without paying the necessary fees.
Amberly-Ashley Perez Mesa
Shelter Meet and Greet
Amberly created a “Meet and Greet” area at the Humane Animal Care Coalition in Monroe County. As a result of her efforts, adopting families and pets seeking placement have a pleasant location to meet and interact with each other to help ensure successful adoptions.
Christine worries that children are losing their creativity to technology so she decided to do something about it by establishing a library in a local day care center. With support from the teachers at the school and parents, her library provide children access to books on a variety of topics and resources to enhance the curriculum at the school.
Maryknoll Girls’ Soccer Team
Noelle wanted to provide the girls attending Maryknoll Elementary in Chacraseca, Nicaragua a reason to stay in school. With the support of FNE International and Father Frank, of her church, she provided a coach, created a soccer team, and researched and prepared a booklet with instructions and drills. Neighboring villages were so inspired by the Chacraseca's girls' soccer team that they created their own teams, with the girls visiting between them. FNE International has agreed to sustain the project by providing the Chacraseca team with a volunteer coach.