Gold Award Girl Scout: Annie Nikolaus, Colorado Springs, “Building a Buddy Bench Community”

What did you do for your Gold Award project?

For my Gold Award project, I built buddy benches for my local K-12 public school. Each level of the K-12 school (high school, middle school, and elementary school) received their own decorated Buddy Bench, but also got to participate in an age-appropriate lesson about buddy benches and what they can do to be better friends to other students. As part of the high school lesson plan, the high school student council helped to decorate a Buddy Bench that was donated to the Air Force Academy Youth Center for them to use with their kids!

How did you measure the impact your Gold Award project made on your target audience?

I measured the impact of my project by having students take surveys after they went through the lesson I had made. I asked questions about what they learned and how they thought they would be able to use their new knowledge in the future. I also received a lot of feedback about my project from teachers, students, and families that I took into account when looking at the overall impact of the project.

How is your project sustainable? How will your project continue to impact after your involvement?

My project is sustainable because the Discovery Canyon High School Student Council decided to continue my project. They will be working with the counselors at Discovery Canyon to continue the friendship lessons for all the campuses and maintain the benches! Kids will continue to learn about friendship and have the tool of buddy benches years to come.

What is your project’s global and/or national connection?

I compiled all of my lesson plans, bench designs, and materials into one large document and sent it out to schools in Colorado, across the country, and internationally. I thought that these plans would work great all over the world because kids everywhere deal with loneliness and can use the tools and learn new skills on how to be a good friend.

What did you learn about yourself?

The biggest thing I learned is that I can complete a project this big! It was hard to work on something for so long and not see the end, but every little bit of effort gets you closer to your goal! Now, I know I can accomplish projects like this (or even bigger) in the future!

How will earning your Gold Award impact you in the future?

My Gold Award will impact me in the future because it gives me an experience that I can rely on as a foundation when I take on bigger projects. It will give me the motivation that I can do great things in the future because I know I have accomplished something so big before.

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 an achievement to show off all the time and effort I had spent in the Girl Scout program over the last 12 years! It gave me a nice way to finish that experience and a bridge to the next chapters 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 an innovator because throughout my project I faced many challenges. To finish my project and to make it the best it could be, I had to come up with creative solutions and think outside the box to overcome the problems I faced. Without trying new ideas I would have been stuck, but instead, I kept trying new things until something worked!

**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 highestawards@gscolorado.org

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