What did you do for your Gold Award project?
For my Gold Award, I addressed the problem of sexual assault by developing a course that taught high school students how to be more aware of their surroundings and defend themselves if needed. Deciding to act, I created a four-week self-defense course for Cherry Creek High School. Teaming up with Big Sisters and Dr. Keogh, Cherry Creek’s activity director, I invited anyone, students and staff, to attend the course and learn. The first week was an introduction to the problem and prevalence of sexual assault. We discussed sexual assault statistics for American women and men, on college campuses in the U.S., and globally. Then, we talked about why self-defense and self-empowerment are needed for self-protection. And finally, we discussed some basic steps to keep oneself safe. The second week a professional Krav Maga instructor from Evolve Martial Arts came to teach about awareness of one’s surroundings and self. Krav Maga is a self-defense system developed by the Israeli Defense Forces. As part of the second session, we did hands-on exercises that involved students learning to practice being passive, aggressive, and assertive in a confrontational setting, and how best to portray oneself in a threatening situation. While the skills taught were basic, they were effective. The third week a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE nurse) from Aurora Medical Center presented the steps people should take if they or someone they know is sexually assaulted. The SANE nurse talked about how one should not take a shower after the crime, but should come directly into the hospital to collect evidence through a physical examination. The SANE nurse explained that this type of evidence collection will allow for the most solid case against the perpetrator. Furthermore, support is available through emotional counseling, and pregnancy and disease prevention are initiated during the examination. Although this was the most emotionally difficult day, it provided valuable knowledge on how to proceed after a sexual assault occurs. And finally, the fourth course was taught by the Krav Maga instructor again, but this time he demonstrated and taught basic Krav Maga techniques that can be applied against an assailant. The students learned and practiced techniques on how to harm an assailant so that they might escape a threatening situation. All four sessions taught the participants new skills and knowledge to prevent and negotiate unsafe situations.
How did you measure the impact your Gold Award project made on your target audience?
To determine the effectiveness of the school-based self-defense course, I collected information from student participants by using a seven question pre- and post-survey. The survey asked students about their knowledge regarding sexual assault and how confident they were in their knowledge and skills to prevent and/or handle an unsafe situation. Using a scale from one to five, with one being “don’t agree” and five being “strongly agree”, 15 students completed the pre-survey at the beginning of the first session and 16 students completed the post-survey at the end of the fourth session. All responses were anonymous. Data were entered into an Excel spreadsheet and mean values were calculated for the average of each question by pre- and post-surveys.
The first question asked if the participant was confident in his/her knowledge of how to keep oneself out of an unsafe situation. Before the courses, the average answer was a 3.5 out of five, meaning they had some knowledge, but not a lot. Post course the average was 4.6 out of five, meaning they felt much more comfortable in their knowledge. The second question asked if the participant believed he/she has the skills to recognize an unsafe situation. The pre average was 4.2 out of five, and the post was 4.5 out of five. These results suggested that before the course the participants had confidence in themselves, by the end, there was minimal change. The third question asked if the participant had the basic skills to get oneself out of an unsafe situation, and the pre-test averaged at 2.6 out of five, while the post averaged 4.3 out of five. At the beginning, participants believed that they had proficient skills to escape, but by the end they felt that they had gained skills to escape. This gap between the pre and post was the largest area of growth for all the skills taught. The fourth question asked if the participant would be able to communicate to a date, friend, or stranger clearly so that the other person understood the participant’s physical boundaries. The pre-test averaged at 3.6 out of five and post-test averaged 4.7 out of five meaning they felt they had gained communication skills. The fifth question asked if the participants believed that sexual assault is common among teens their age, the pre averaging at 4.1 out of five and the post averaging 4.7 out of five. This displayed that even though the participants might not have known what to do, they could recognize that sexual assault is a prevalent problem. The sixth question asked if the participant knew the legal steps to take in case the participant or a friend had been sexually assaulted. Pre averaged at 3.3 while post averaged at 4.7 showing that they did learn more of the legal steps to take. The final question asked on the pre-test was if there were any questions or comments, none being received, and the post asked if there were any comments which there were several of:
- So Helpful!
- Thank You!
- Great class! Knowledgeable instructors and great content
- Thank you so much for putting this together! You (and the course) were great!
- Thank you Victoria! I learned a lot!
The only negative comment received was from the only male who participated and he voiced that this course my not be the best for males; this may have been because he was uncomfortable being the only male there. So, overall the course was helpful and received very well.
Statistics show that sexual assault is a huge problem among Americans especially students. There is a need to provide knowledge and skills to prevent sexual assault, and if necessary, to get out of an unsafe situation. This course addresses this need though the Big Sisters club at Cherry Creek High School. By teaching the participants about their surroundings, how to keep safe, and some techniques to get out of an unsafe situation, students became more prepared to keep themselves safe as they become independent adults. Post-survey results demonstrate that this program was successful in increasing students’ confidence in their ability to communicate their physical boundaries to a date, friend, or stranger, to believe in their own ability to get themselves out of an unsafe situation, and to know the legal steps if they or a friend has been sexually assaulted. Such critical skills are important as students become adults.
How is your project sustainable? How will your project continue to impact after your involvement?
I set up my project at Cherry Creek High School through the Big Sisters organization. Big Sisters at Cherry Creek High School has agreed to continue this program in the coming year without my assistance running it.
What is your project’s global and/or national connection?
To link my project on the national/global level, I created a website that provides resources for someone else to incorporate this type of program into their community. The link is: https://vrd319.wixsite.com/self-defense. The website includes research, the steps that can be taken to create a four-week self-defense course, a four-week course outline, a sample flyer, a course introductory presentation, a pre- and post-survey, and additional resources.
What did you learn about yourself?
I learned that I like everything to be organized perfectly with no flaws, and go the way I plan it to go. However, no matter how much planning I do, things do not work out as I plan. Because of this realization, I became a better leader because now I am much more flexible. I know that life happens, and the best we can do is to go with the flow while continuing to work toward the goal.
How will earning your Gold Award impact you in the future?
The Gold Award has impacted my learning path tremendously. Since I want to go to school to be a nurse, meeting and talking about the kind of work SANE nurses do has established an interest in that field of nursing in which I may decide to major.
Why do you feel the Gold Award was an important part of your Girl Scout experience?
The Gold Award was an important part of my Girl Scout experience because it was the final piece of a 12-year journey. I started Girl Scouts as a young, inexperienced six-year-old girl and finished it as a wise and resourceful 18-year-old woman. The project I created incorporated all the skills I learned from Girl Scouts over the past 12 years, putting them into practice. It was a wonderful way to conclude one of the most imperative learning experiences of my life.
How did earning your Gold Award help you become a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader)?
Earning my Gold Award helped me become a go-getter because I started with a team of people who then did not follow through with my project and I was left with no team. I was a go-getter because I did not let this discourage me, but rather found a new team and kept going.
**IMPORTANT NOTE: This blog represents only a small fraction of the hard work, dedication and requirements that go into earning a Girl Scout Gold Award. It is simply a brief summary, which is meant to inspire Girl Scouts to Go Gold in the future. For more information on earning your Gold Award, please email firstname.lastname@example.org