Gold Award Girl Scout, Zoe N. is passionate about giving all children, regardless of race, color or socioeconomic status the opportunity to increase their literacy rate by providing students with access to an endless array of books. Her Girl Scout Gold Award project, Reading with Radiance was launched in partnership with Miami Palmetto Senior High School and includes implementing mini libraries and book boxes throughout the elementary school’s campus. Zoe donated many personal items to raise much-needed funds to support the purchase of second-hand books, an approach that benefits children within the community and the sustainability of our local environment. Continued efforts included sourcing books through book drives with the National Honors Society and building a total of 5 book boxes, by hand for distribution throughout the school.
We sat down with the University of Florida freshman to learn more about her desire to provide kids with an endless supply of books and the origin of her project.
Describe Your Project
I started my project first with a book drive through my school's National Honor Society, of which I am secretary. Through this book drive, I gathered lots of different types of books for all different grades and reading levels. I held a garage sale to raise money soon after. Next, I built four mini-libraries. I went to Home Depot with my dad to buy the saw, the wood, the paint, etc. We started working that weekend and built the mini libraries to soon fill with books. I then placed them in a local Elementary school so that kids could "take a book, leave a book" as they please.
How is your project sustainable?
My Gold Award is sustainable because years after I graduate, the mini libraries will still be installed at the Elementary School. I will always keep that with me. Books will be rotated and circled in and out for many years to come.
What gave you the inspiration to approach this topic the way that you did?
I felt like reading had sort of become less important in schools and I wanted to bring that back. Also I thought that maybe kids do not have complete access to a lot of books and I could change that.
Why is this project important to you, personally?
This project was important to me because I felt like reading can be a really good escape from reality and I think that reading can do a lot for people, and you never know what goes on with families besides what you see on the surface. There could be families out there who cannot financially provide their kids with books and I wanted to be able to do that for them.
What was the biggest challenge you overcame and how?
The biggest challenge was definitely raising money to get supplies. All the wood and the saw were very expensive so I knew I had to do something big, which is where the idea for a garage sale came from.
How does this project contribute to your goals for the future?
This project contributes a lot to my goals for the future because it helped me develop leadership skills and professional communication. I had to communicate via email and in person meetings with Principals, teachers and administrators at both my high school and the Elementary school I worked with.
What did you learn about your community in this process?
I learned a lot also about my community through this process. I learned that students, no matter the age, are very grateful and committed to learning. I also learned how appreciative schools are of these type of projects and community service. The school was very thankful and was very welcoming.
What did you learn about YOURSELF?
I learned a lot from this project. I learned that I am capable of balancing my school work with other activities. I also learned that I am capable of having an impact on the world around me, step by step. I am so proud that I have made an impact on my childhood community and the elementary school where I grew up. I also learned that I am pretty good at drawing trees and flowers!
Girl Scouts has made me a respectful, understanding and honest person.