Ambassador Girl Scout
South Miami, FL
What are some of your favorite hobbies?
I love singing and all things art. I have been painting since I was a little girl. It is my happy place.
In a word, what does it mean to say, "I am a Girl Scout"?
What college do you plan to attend? Have you decided on your major?
I will be attending Miami-Dade College for Fall 2023 with the University of Miami Track for Fall 2024 Acceptance and majoring in Art History.
What is the title of your project?
Please describe your project. Be as specific as possible, including what, where and how you completed your project?
Healing Hugs is a project that I have been wanting to develop since before I began thinking of my Gold Award. Healing Hugs addresses an important need: the need for Cuddlers in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). Several studies have shown that babies in the NICU need human contact. It provides much-needed stimulation that can result in shorter lengths of stay and offset early trauma, as well as possible developmental delays, all by providing the most essential act: a simple hug or cuddle. In many cases, these tiny beautiful humans need a lot of attention and care, and the NICU nurses who care for them need help. At the same time, in most cases, parents cannot constantly be at their child’s bedside, as life continues outside the hospital. In hopes of addressing both loads of the NICU Nurses and of the parents, Healing Hugs alleviates this burden.
It is important that the project continue and evolve even after I graduate from Our Lady of Lourdes Academy. I created my project through the International TRI-M Honor Society at my school, which I am a member of. As discussed with and approved by the lead teacher of the TRI-M Honor Society, every year, a TRI-M Senior member will be named the Healing Hugs Ambassador. The position carries a one-year commitment and members will be given the opportunity to volunteer for the position. As the founding ambassador, I have created program guidelines that include all details of the program as well as marketing assets for future ambassadors and members to update and improve as needs change. I am also very happy to share that HCA Mercy Hospital has contacted me to explore the possibility of creating a first-time MERCY Healing Hugs program in their new maternity wing. There will be ‘Healing Hugs’ for years to come.
Why is this project important to you? What gave you the inspiration to approach this topic the way that you did?
As a young child, I spent a lot of time at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital throughout the years. I had my family and my friends, and it was still scary; I can't imagine the life of a newborn in the NICU. There is nothing like the human touch, the sound of a soft voice, or that of a human heartbeat to a baby. If I can nurture, comfort, and give these precious little humans a chance at a better life, then I’ve achieved my purpose, and what an amazing purpose it will be.
What was the biggest challenge you faced and how did you overcome it?
When faced with the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, my hopes of developing this project came to a complete halt. Now that we are slowly going back to a ‘new normal,’ I feel it is the perfect time to align my project with current needs, and what better way to do so than by making it my Gold Award project.
How does this project contribute to your future goals?
Healing Hugs made me realize how much I genuinely enjoy helping others, especially children, without expecting or wanting anything in return other than making them happy and healthy. I’ve realized that, in most cases, what they are lacking are basic life necessities – medicine, food, a warm blanket, or simply, the human touch. I want to keep helping children in the NICU in the future and explore taking on a bigger role in giving them a fair chance in life.
What did you learn about yourself in the process of completing your project?
I learned that I need to trust my judgment and not question my decisions so much. I feel accomplished; I had a thought, and my thought became a reality. I made it happen my way, on my terms, all for the best outcomes. COVID did not stop my plan, but rather, made me more committed to seeing the process all the way through.
What did you learn about your community in the process of completing your project?
I learned that when there is a need or a cause to help my community will always step up to the challenge, to make a difference and impact a life. I had never realized that philanthropy can genuinely start at an early age, and my faith is a big driving force.