Category Archives: Take Action/Highest Awards

Gold Award Girl Scout: Mia Aguon, Parker, “E-Cigarettes”

What did you do for your Gold Award project?

My Gold Award Project was to have businesses of downtown Parker agree to hang up “No Smoking” signs that include e-cigarettes. Public health and safety has been something I feel strongly about preserving. With the growing popularity of e-cigarettes and vaporizers, I quickly became concerned about how it will affect communities, specifically the business community of my hometown of Parker. After seeing people openly use e-cigarettes and vape pens in stores, I knew exactly what my project needed to be. I created my own signs that say “No Smoking Including E-Cigarettes,” made an informative brochure on my project and the harm of e-cigarettes, and designed my own website that includes information, my sign, and brochure. Then, I reached out to several businesses personally and with the help of my team, getting them to hang the sign up, and carry the brochures.

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

There is no perfect way to measure the impact this project. I have so many resources out there and so many ways people can access this project in some way, shape, or form that one can’t quite measure it.

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

There are many sustainable aspects to my project. A huge one is the website I designed. A free domain is being used, therefore no payments will have to be constantly made and it will never disappear. It will always be there as a tool for people to learn about e-cigarettes and more about my project. I have included two PDFs on my website. One is the sign I designed to be hung up, and the other is the brochure I created to be provided at the store. This way my sign and brochure are always available for anybody, all they have to do is download the file and print. I have also partnered up with a wonderful small business owner who agreed to hold multiple signs and brochures at his location for anyone to pick up. This way, anyone interested in supporting my project can go to his location and pick one up. Website: https://e-cigarettegsaguon.weebly.com/

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

For my national and global aspect of my project, I have reached out to the Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) organization. They are a nonprofit organization whose mission is to advocate for innovative legal and policy measures to end the global tobacco epidemic. They have been making efforts against the tobacco industry since 1967, and since 2000 they have been in partnership with the Framework Convention Alliance, a coalition made up of more than 500 organizations in over 100 countries. This means not only does the ASH have global efforts, but they are partnered with tons of organizations that are all over the world. This makes them the perfect organization for me to reach out to in order to broaden the impact of my project. I have emailed the General Inquiries branch explaining what my project is, why I chose to do it, and how they could hopefully help support my project. They would be the perfect outlet for the global expansion of my project.

What did you learn about yourself?

Throughout the process of completing my Gold Award, I learned that if I really want something I will do whatever it takes to get it. No matter how many obstacles I face or how busy I get, I put forward the effort to make it happen. After some self reflection, I was truly impressed with myself for what I had accomplished. I never knew that I had it in me to be so driven and dedicated towards completing such a difficult task.

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

I am currently enlisted in the Air Force and by becoming a Gold Award Girl Scout, I have the privilege of graduating basic training one rank ahead of an average enlistee, meaning I’ll instantly be making a little bit more money. Most will graduate as Airman. I will graduate as an Airman First Class. Not only will earning my Gold Award directly help me in the Air Force, it will help my overall work ethic and everyday life skills. Some important skills that will benefit me would be communication with others, being able to work in a team and even manage a team.

Why do you feel the Gold Award was an important part of your Girl Scout experience?

I feel like it was important because every skill that I had learned throughout Girl Scouts, I applied to this project. It is like a final test, you show everything you have learned throughout the years, and how you can use your skills and ambitions to make a difference in the world.

How did earning your Gold Award help you become a G.I.R.L.?

My Gold Award taught me how to be an innovator and a risk-taker. My project is focused towards a very newly occurring problem, and when I first had this new innovative idea I was completely ahead of the game. I took a risk by going out and trying to get people to support my project and ideas behind it.

**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

Gold Award Girl Scout: Sarah Dormer, Greenwood Village, “Pollinators, Boxes, and Dog Waste: What do they have in common?”

What did you do for your Gold Award project?

For my Gold Award, I took 72 former dog waste bag dispensers the city of Greenwood Village was getting rid of and recycled them into birdhouses and bee boxes. I then gave out the boxes for free at the city’s Earth Day Celebration while presenting a few different things everyone could do to protect pollinators. After the ceremony, I wrote an article for the Greenwood Village Newsletter about pollinators and delivered the last of the boxes to residents all over Greenwood Village.

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

I measured my impact of my project by having everyone who attended the Earth Day ceremony sign a banner pledging to protect pollinators. Afterwords, I quantified the results by counting the number of signatures.

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

My project is sustainable for two reasons: for one, all the people who read my article have their knowledge of how to protect pollinators, and all the people who have boxes will have homes for pollinators for years to come. Also, Greenwood Village agreed to rerun and publish the article I wrote, so it would always be accessible.

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

My project’s national connection came when I sent boxes and my article to communities in Idaho, Washington, and Tennessee.

What did you learn about yourself?

This project taught me that I was brave. For me, I learned that I could advocate for myself, especially when talking on the phone or talking to adults. I learned to problem solve, as almost nothing went exactly as planned. If nothing else, I learned what I could do. This project was a huge task, and the fact that I was able to do it will always stick with me.

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

Mostly, my Gold Award taught me to persevere and problem solve when things don’t immediately work out. In addition, it inspired a deep and lasting ability to love the creatures and nature around me.

Why do you feel the Gold Award was an important part of your Girl Scout experience?

My Gold Award changed my Girl Scout experience in that it was the largest thing I have ever done. Girl Scouts teaches girls to change the world, but I always felt some distance from the concept until I did this project and actually understood what changing the world felt like, even if it was a small change.

How did earning your Gold Award help you become a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader)? 

My project taught me to be an innovator. Because the project was themed around construction, I had to engineer with the materials I had and could recycle to make the boxes perfect.

**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

Gold Award Girl Scout: Amy Fishman, Boulder, “Connecting Teens With Nature”

What did you do for your Gold Award project?

As a high school student in Boulder, I’ve had incredible access to the outdoors throughout my teen years, like many of my classmates. However, as I’ve progressed through school, I learned that many of my peers do not remain engaged in the environment or its issues: they do not spend time outside, choosing instead to focus on schoolwork, Netflix, or other indoor activities, rather than the area that surrounds us. For my project, my aim was to foster a connection between teens and the environment. To this end, I worked to acquire information focused on teens’ engagement with the outdoors and then facilitated an improved connection with the outdoors. Through this, I also increased their understanding of environmental issues, in Boulder and beyond.

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

At the start of my project, I administered surveys to students at high schools in my area. The results of the surveys illustrated the lack of environmental connection experienced by my peers. After analyzing the surveys, I designed a program based on their results that subsequently improved participating teens’ levels of engagement with nature and understanding of issues impacting the environment by approximately 30%.

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

Science Adventure Program has agreed to a written commitment to continue the project through an annual meeting focused on fostering environmental stewardship and awareness in high school aged teens before they begin adult life. I shared information with a number of environmental groups, both local and international.

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

As part of my project’s sustainability, I contacted the environmental organizations Green 10, Sierra Club, and Forest Stewardship Council. Green 10 is a coalition of environmental organizations that are active on the European level, which helped me to have a global impact by sharing my information. Forest Stewardship Council is located in the United States and focuses on environmental stewardship in relation to United States forests. Both Green 10 and Forest Stewardship Council responded to my research, which helped to spread the information acquired in my project nationally and globally.

What did you learn about yourself?

Throughout this project, I learned how to effectively communicate my ideas to a wide variety of audiences. I have also learned the importance of delegating work while in a leadership position. I realized that I was incapable of doing everything myself: for example, I could not administer a large quantity of surveys to multiple high schools. By delegating, I was able to reach my goals.

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

I believe that earning my Gold Award will impact me primarily due to the fact that my communicative and leadership abilities have improved. Because I want to continue my education in regards to environmental studies, which has a focus on collaborative group work, having strong communication skills will be impactful to me in the future.

Why do you feel the Gold Award was an important part of your Girl Scout experience?

At the beginning of high school, a large number of girls in my troop ended their involvement. This was deeply disappointing to me, because Girl Scouts has been deeply important to my personal community and friend group. Only one other girl remained part of my troop, and we both decided to complete our Gold Awards. Our work on our separate projects added to my experience as a Girl Scout, and I think that because we were supporting each other in our goals, I was able to build a strong community and truly learn from my experience as a Girl Scout in high school.

How did earning your Gold Award help you become a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader)?

I think that my Gold Award project helped me to become an innovator because I was obligated to solve problems as they arose, which challenged me, but also forced me to grow in this respect. For example, one meeting with students was scheduled in late December, but it became difficult for classmates to meet up in person for the second meeting in January. To resolve this, I chose to lead a session through a group email conversation. This, to me, was an effective and innovative solution, and helped me to become a stronger problem solver.

To me, completing my Girl Scout Gold Award project represents the fulfillment of my commitment to Girl Scouts. Much of my younger years focused around being a Girl Scout, and to recognize that I have gotten to this point as one is deeply important to me. I connected with my community by sharing my passion and my idea with the people around me, which has been one of the most important aspects of my time as a Girl Scout.

**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

Gold Award Girl Scout: Mykaela Ryan, Broomfield, “The effects and how to stop bullying”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What did you do for your Gold Award project?

The root cause of my project was helping people understand what it is like to have a speech impediment and how to avoid bullying people with disabilities.

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

I presented to high schoolers. The impact my project had on the students was they understood what myself and other people who stutter go through. I gave them a survey before and after my presentation for a total of 42 surveys. The pretest average score was 3/10-4/10 and two people got 10/10 and the after survey average score was 8/10-10/10. The teachers and students were interested and engaged during the presentation and said they learned more about stuttering. One of the teachers, Mrs. Stover, even said my presentation was a great example of how to engage an audience because I started out with a video clip of teenagers who stutter. The class also responded well to my own video of my friend at camp.

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

My Loyo (Living on Your Own) teacher and my speech pathologist will continue my project. In fact, after I gave my two presentations, Mrs. Shepherd asked my fifth period teacher if I could present my project to that class. The teacher said , “Of course!,” so I will be presenting my project again. My website is up and running and I have given my PowerPoint and brochure to Mrs. Shepherd for next year’s classes. I have a letter from Mrs. Shepherd saying she will do that.

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

I have my website up and running. My website address is  Http://mrryan02.wixsite.com?stuttersupports. I am working with Camp Say to have my website listed on their website.

What did you learn about yourself?

I learned about other people’s reactions to people getting bullied because of their stutter. I learned a lot about myself. I pushed myself to find someone famous to come to my presentation. I faced my fears in making a video, reaching out in person to my assistant principal, asking my teachers if I could present, and working 80 hours on one project.  I learned I have what it takes to speak in front of my classmates and follow through on a large project.

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

Earning my Gold Award has taught me to be persistent in my goals and what I want to achieve in life.

Why do you feel the Gold Award was an important part of your Girl Scout experience?

Because it made me face my fear of talking in front of the class or in front of anyone.

How did earning your Gold Award help you become a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader)?

Risk-taker because I took a risk of talking in front of the class and it turned out really well. People loved it.

**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

 

Gold Award Girl Scout: Kristine Guy, Monument, “Living with an Invisible Disability”

What did you do for your Gold Award project?

I wanted to spread awareness for CAPD (Central Auditory Processing Disorder) to help ensure students with this disorder get the help they need to be successful in school. I created a presentation that I can give to students, teachers, administrators, and schools. To go with my presentation, I put together pamphlets that I can hand out at my presentations. My pamphlets are in both English and Spanish, so I can reach more people. I also created a standalone website that people can visit if they would like more information.

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

I measured the impact I had by the reactions of the people who attended my presentations. Many took extras pamphlets. I had several people come up to me after a presentation to talk to me about students that they thought might have this disability. I had people come up to me and ask if I would be willing to present to other groups.  (I am willing) I had very positive feedback from all my presentations.

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

I created a standalone website that I will be updating as I go thru the next portion of my studies – that of obtaining a college degree with CAPD. On my website, I have uploaded my pamphlets so anyone can download and print them as needed. The website will be out there continuously for others to read. I plan on updating it as new information becomes available, and as more people send me their testimonies on living with CAPD.

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

I reached out to people I met while visiting in the UK and Ireland many years ago. The family I contacted had a mother who was a Girl Guide leader for many years. Her daughter just finished her masters in this very topic – CAPD.  I sent her my links for Cathie to review and provide constructive critique of my website and pamphlet. I also told them that they could print up the pamphlets and provide information to those in need in the UK, where Cathie teaches now, and in Ireland, where her mother is still a Girl Guide. Additionally, my mentor had a contact back east, a third grade teacher, with whom I had contact. She previewed my website and gave me some ideas on how to improve my website. And while my website is in English only, I had a professional translator translate my pamphlet into Spanish so I could reach more people. The Spanish version is on the website along with the English.

What did you learn about yourself?

I learned that although I do not like speaking in public, when it is a subject that I have personal experiences with and that I am passionate about, I can speak to groups of strangers with ease. I learned to go way outside my comfort zone and get up in front of a group of teachers, nurses, principals, and coaches. It was hard, but I believe that it is important to raise awareness of CAPD because of the negative experiences I had going thru the school system with a severe case of CAPD. I want to prevent what happened to me from happening to other students.

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

It has made me more confident in my abilities to overcome difficulties with school. I have become better at self-advocating and I have helped others to advocate for themselves. I have learned that I can actually talk to adults I do not know, and help them understand what their students may be experiencing in a classroom like setting – bringing better understanding to the teacher of what their students must deal with on a daily basis. I think I will be better at tackling challenging situations in the future because of what I went thru for my Gold.

Why do you feel the Gold Award was an important part of your Girl Scout experience?

I think earning the Gold with my CAPD disability helped me to understand that even though I have a disability, I can overcome it, and use it to further educate others around me. I used to hide my ear piece (my filter) and not let others see it because I didn’t want to be different.  Now though, I wear it without embarrassment and if people ask me about it, I use it as a tool to spread awareness.  So my ear piece went from being a tool that needed to be kept hidden, to being a tool that can be used to raise awareness of CAPD.

How did earning your Gold Award help you become a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader)? 

It helped me be a risk-taker – mainly because I used to keep my disability to myself because I wanted to be “normal.” I have siblings with CAPD, and they keep it hidden for the most part because they feel like it is a stigma. I was that way in middle school and to some degree, my early high school years. Going out into public, talking about a very personal subject, was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I first had to come to accept who I was, and be okay with that. Even though I work hard at school, and I get “A’s”, I have had people tell me I only get “A’s” because I have extra time….meaning an unfair advantage in their eyes. So, I have had to overcome my doubts about myself, and my CAPD, and realize that I work hard for my grades, and the “extra time on exams” is not a crutch, it is an accommodation because it takes me longer to process information. I also think it helped me become a go-getter. I wanted to raise awareness for CAPD, which required me to cold contact numerous schools, administrators, and teachers. I had very few people call me back, so I had to try to contact them again. I was determined that I was going to give my speech to someone!  And once I started showing my presentations, I received very positive feedback that made me determined to give more speeches whenever the opportunity arose.

**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

Gold Award Girl Scout: Abigail Stuart, Aurora, “One for me, one for you”

What did you do for your Gold Award project?

Throughout my time in elementary and middle school, I observed two different circumstances within the student body: kids that over pack for lunch and have leftovers, and kids that are left feeling hungry as they don’t have access to enough food. My project matched kids’ leftover food with those who lacked an adequate amount of food. I placed bins in Creekside Elementary School (677 students) and Liberty Middle School (1,121 students) for kids to donate their extra non-perishable, sealed food to support the fight against hunger in our community. After the food was collected from each school, it was transported by my team to the food bank Hope Starts Here where it was later distributed to families that live in the area that are in need.

Additionally, my project included educating students at Creekside and Liberty about hunger in Colorado and explaining to them what they can do to combat the crisis. Students became not only aware of the hunger around them, but now that they are equipped with the knowledge of what they can do, they can help.

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

I measured the impact of my project with a survey that was given to the fourth and fifth graders at Creekside Elementary School. My survey demonstrated that the students obtained knowledge about local food banks and what they can do to help those in need, and they now talk about hunger with their families. According to my survey, 7.2% more people had a good discussion with their parent(s), 26.9% more people were aware that others around them may not have enough food, and 53.2% more people are aware that there is a food bank nearby Creekside.

Another way that I measured my project’s impact was by counting the amount of food that was donated at Creekside. In total, the students donated over 1,900 snacks to families at the food bank Hope Starts Here. At Liberty, there were also a lot of snacks that were collected, but since my project was not done over just one week but is an ongoing process, I didn’t count the food at Liberty.

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

My project will be sustained at Liberty Middle School and Creekside Elementary School. I created a SignUp Genius in which the members of Grandview High School’s NHS will volunteer once a month to collect the food from each school. One bin was left at Creekside, while 10+ bins were left at Liberty. To ensure that the kids are frequently informed, flyers will be left on the walls at both schools to remind the kids that they can always donate their food. I also was able to acquire a letter of commitment from both Liberty Middle School and Creekside Elementary school ensuring that my project will be sustained.

I believe that this program can be implemented at any school. It is better to collect food at a school with less of a free and reduced student population, so people actually have a surplus of food to give and they can learn about hunger needs in their area. However, there are always going to be people who are willing to give food and people who are in need of food.

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

My project has a global/national connection because I made a website that can be viewed by people locally and globally. This website was made so that if someone wanted to replicate my project at their school or a school near them, they would be successful. I included important resources that were pertinent to the success of my project: the steps that I took to accomplish my project, flyers and a brochure that I made that helped to inform the entire school, drafts of emails that I sent to the principals of the schools that I worked with to introduce my project, etc. I sent the URL of my website (gold-award-website-2.webnode.com) to parents at Creekside Elementary School, parents at Liberty Middle School, and people at the food bank to offer them the directions needed to implement this at another school.

What did you learn about yourself?

My project taught me various leadership skills, such as perseverance. Specifically, I learned that in order to get into contact with someone and get something done, you must persist and have patience. When I was trying to get into contact with the head of the food bank Hope Starts Here, I emailed them and called them constantly, but no one ever answered. As I was tempted to go to the food bank and approach the employees face-to-face, I thought that I would give them a little more time to get back to me. After that still didn’t work, I sent a final email, and someone finally got back to me. From then on she was quick to respond and very helpful. I learned that I must not give up when something isn’t going right, and sometimes, if you want something to be done quickly, you must approach them face-to-face.

Another skill that I learned about myself, is that when you are managing a project, you must stay on top of tasks, and have a good work ethic. Throughout my project, principals and teachers constantly said that I was always on top of things. If I met with a principal and we decided that I was going to draft an email to send to teachers, I would draft it that night or as soon as I could. This taught me that people appreciate it when you keep your word and follow through with what you had planned on doing.

As I worked with both Cub Club at Creekside Elementary School and NJHS at Liberty Middle School, I was able to improve my leadership skills. I learned that in order for kids to listen to you, you have to make a connection. Therefore, I connected with the students in Cub Club and NJHS while we made posters, and they were able to get engaged in participating in my project.

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

Earning my Gold Award will impact my future because it will open new and exciting doors. For instance, as colleges and business are aware of the work that I accomplished and the benefits that I contributed to society, I will be more likely to be accepted into a college or a job position. My Gold Award project also exposed me to my love of volunteering. In my future, I am excited to pursue other service projects and help other service organizations.

Why do you feel the Gold Award was an important part of your Girl Scout experience?

My Girl Scout Gold Award was an important part of my Girl Scout experience because it taught me numerous life lessons that I will carry throughout the rest of my life. While other aspects of Girl Scouts that I participated in, including the Bronze and Silver Awards and other projects with my troop, taught me lessons such as teamwork since I worked with my troop, my Gold Award forced me out of my comfort zone and taught me what was required to work individually.

How did earning your Gold Award help you become a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader)?

My Gold Award project helped me to become a better risk-taker. Before this project I was intimidated by reaching out and talking to adults. Through this project, I was forced to communicate with principals, employees of the food bank, and other people through emailing, calling and talking face-to-face. I am now more comfortable with reaching out to people and engaging in conversation in a formal manner.

**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

 

Gold Award Girl Scout: Trinity Brubaker, Longmont, “Free Mental Health Little Library”

What did you do for your Gold Award project?

Both my biological parents were drug addicts that suffered from mental illness. I was taken into foster care at age two and adopted at age three. You would think my story would end there. A kid born to drug addicts and placed in foster care should fail, right? My biological parents gave me a gift, the gift of both musical and artistic talent. Due to early childhood trauma, I experienced at the hands of my biological parents, I struggle with attachment disorder, a mental illness. Our society often views people with mental illness as failures. The stigma attached to speaking out about mental illness and getting help for a mental illness is one of our nation’s greatest social problems. This is where my Gold Award project takes shape. I combined my experiences with having a mental illness and my artistic talent to speak up, take a risk, and make a social change. I built a little library full of mental health books. I spoke out to groups of people about my mental illness and asked them to support my project with books. I presented to groups of young children and educated them on mental health issues. I created a safe place for conversation around mental health issues while creating a physical library people can go to get information on mental health.

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

I found that my storytelling became in itself a work of art and an important part of my project. The impact of storytelling is hard to fit into a spreadsheet and measure. The conversations started by the box have become just as important as creating a beautiful space for mental health resources to be exchanged. The creation of a physical box started a conversation. We must tell our stories to address the social need of breaking down the stigma around mental illness. We need to find spaces that are safe to share our resources. The stories people shared with me measured the impact more than any numbers every will. I do, however, visit the box weekly and see titles are gone and new titles put in there place.

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

My project is sustainable as long as there is a book in it. The library will continue to impact people by educating them about mental health, as well as providing amazing resources for families in need. I have partnered with therapists and counselors and asked them to continue to direct people to the free library. This mental health library is also listed on a global website that directs people to free little libraries around the world. https://littlefreelibrary.org/ourmap/

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

I am an artist. I looked at the link between mental illness and people with artist backgrounds. I researched how difficult it is for all people to access mental health resources. Nationally, there is a lack of funding for mental health resources. I wanted to create an artistic work of art that would also function to provide mental health resource to the community. “Countless painters, composers, writers, and musicians have suffered from depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, prompting people to ask the question, are artists more likely to suffer from mental illness. The research says yes. A 2012 study followed 1.2 million patients and their relatives and found that bipolar disorder is more common in individuals with artistic professions including dancers, photographers, and authors.”  Source: https://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/arts-culture/stories/8-artists-who-suffered-mental-illness

What did you learn about yourself?

I learned that I am stronger than I thought. That I can start an uncomfortable conversation. Lastly, that I can overcome obstacles thrown my way.

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

It is my hope that my project has helped create a new space for sharing mental health resources, while encouraging others to share their stories.I hope to continue using my gifts and talents in the future while seeking a degree in art therapy.

Why do you feel the Gold Award was an important part of your Girl Scout experience?

I have been in Girl Scouts for over 10 years. I always looked at doing my Gold Award as the last step in my Girl Scout experience. The Gold Award gave me something to work for in my career of Girl Scouting.

How did earning your Gold Award help you become a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader)? 

Risk-Taker! Let’s face it, many people who ignite change, at first, fail!  The first person who said, “Women should be given the right to vote,” risked failure, and failed for years. Being a teen who stands up to announce that she lives with a mental illness makes people uncomfortable. In telling my story and using my artistic talents to create a safe place to exchange mental health resources I am taking an authentic creative risk. I am saying it it time to tell our stories about surviving and thriving with a mental illness. I am using my story and my talents to say it is time for us to provide free resources to support those with mental illness and it is past time to feel safe to stand up to say I live everyday with a mental illness. I will gladly fail if my creative project and my story helps start to break down the stigma attached to living with mental illness.

**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

Gold Award Girl Scout: Mckayla Nelson, Colorado Springs, “Ready for Kindergarten”

What did you do for your Gold Award project?

The overall theme of my project was to help prepare students for success in school. There were two parts to my project. With the help of kindergarten teachers from Cheyenne Mountain School District 12, I wrote a “Ready for Kindergarten” booklet that outlines important skills and behaviors necessary for a child to know before starting kindergarten. After receiving feedback from teachers and editing, I translated the booklet to Spanish and had it reviewed by a high school Spanish teacher. I also coordinated and led the high school club Student and Teachers Aiding Humanity (STAH) in a children’s book drive at my school to provide books to Skyway Elementary School for their reading intervention program. The teachers will distribute the books to those students who most need them.

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

I received positive feedback regarding the “Ready for Kindergarten” booklet from John Fogarty, Assistant Superintendent of Student Achievement; Stacy Aldridge, Principal at Skyway Elementary School; Sandi Sessions, Skyway Elementary Kindergarten Teacher; Courtney Parker, Gold Camp Elementary Kindergarten Teacher; Stacey Merkel, Pinon Valley Elementary Kindergarten Teacher; and Landra Decker, Gold Camp Elementary Kindergarten Teacher. I was also thanked by Amy Babcock and the other interventionists at Skyway Elementary for the hundreds of books donated.

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

I provided Cheyenne Mountain School District 12 with both digital and paper files of the “Ready for Kindergarten” booklet for use at their annual kindergarten round-up. I also provided the booklet to several different school districts throughout the state so that they can use the project as well.

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

As a nation, we need every child to be well educated. Although every child in the United States has access to an education, many students start at a distinct disadvantage due to family situations and lack of access to other educational resources. I created my project to aid this situation in my community.

What did you learn about yourself?

Throughout this project, I learned to be more confident in myself and I improved my communication skills. I also improved my leadership skills and learned how to better manage my time.

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

This project has taught me so many life skills that I will use in the future. I learned how to better communicate with adults and ask for help, which had intimidated me before. I learned from all of the mistakes I made throughout the project and I will now be able to avoid them and learn from them in the future.

Why do you feel the Gold Award was an important part of your Girl Scout experience?

I think that this project help me grow as a person and as a leader and that I will be able to use the skills I learned to help me in the future. It was great to be able to come up with an idea and to be able to see it through to the end by leading other people in the project.

How did earning your Gold Award help you become a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader)? 

Throughout this project, I developed my leadership and go-getter attitude and learned how to better manage my time and how to work with a team to accomplish a goal. At the beginning of the process, I found it difficult to find the time to work on my project, but as the deadline grew closer, I started creating schedules and prioritizing tasks, which helped me complete the project. When working with other people on my team, I improved my communication skills and I learned how to delegate tasks to efficiently finish a job.

**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

 

Gold Award Girl Scout: Mariam Dhunna, Aurora, “The Pen Pal Program”

What did you do for your Gold Award project?

My Gold Award comprises two parts: the Pen Pal Program and a social skills curriculum. The Pen Pal Program is designed to address social isolation in youth, aged 11 to 19, who have epilepsy. The Pen Pal Program addresses this issue by providing an opportunity for these youth to connect with someone who may share similar experiences or perspectives. Communicating through letter writing, emailing, or texting provides a safe opportunity to develop important social skills, such as the ability to reach out and make a connection with a new person. Learning how to express one’s thoughts and feelings, and reaching out to others for friendship are social skills that are essential to feeling content and confident in life.

The social skills curriculum focuses on learning how to feel confident in establishing a relationship. The primary emphasis is mastering how to greet others, initiating and maintaining a conversation, and negotiating difficult social situations.

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

I measured the impact on my target audience by sending a closing survey to evaluate the positive and negative effects of the program. I also asked for statements from some of the pen pal participants. One of the participants, Amelia, sent me a statement detailing how the Pen Pal Program has impacted her. Through her experience, she has been able to come out of her comfort zone, and make a new friend who understands the difficulties of living with epilepsy. Her pen pal, Bailey, has also expressed that her friendship with Amelia is off to a strong start, as they “have reached out to each other and have each other’s email, phone number, and even Snapchat!”

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

The Pen Pal Program and social skills curriculum will be sustained beyond my involvement by the Epilepsy Foundation of Colorado’s Youth Council and my foundation liaison, Marcee Aude. One or two Youth Council members will be in charge of continuing the Pen Pal Program and another one to two members will be continuing the social skills curriculum. Marcee Aude will be overseeing it all to ensure it runs smoothly and efficiently. I have obtained a signed letter of commitment from Marcee. In the letter Marcee stated, “This is a Letter of Commitment that the Epilepsy Foundation of Colorado and the Youth Council commits to sustain the Pen Pal Program.”

Marcee and the Youth Council have committed to continuing by “sustain[ing], grow[ing] and expand[ing] the program to help so many more youth with epilepsy who may be feeling isolated and struggling with their diagnosis.”

My project will continue to have an impact after my involvement because the social skills curriculum will continue to be taught and new pen pal pairings will be made.

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

Social isolation in epileptic youth is not an issue unique to youth in Colorado, it is a domestic and international issue. In order to address this, the Pen Pal Program is expanding to recruit pen pals from not only Colorado, but also Wyoming, Illinois, Iowa, the National branch of the Epilepsy Foundation, and New Delhi, India. This will be achieved through my partnership with the Epilepsy Foundation of Colorado, the Wyoming Epilepsy Organizations (the Wyoming Institute for Disabilities and the Wyoming Neurologic Associates), the Indian Epilepsy Association (based in New Delhi), and the Epilepsy Foundation of Chicago. Through these partnerships, participants will gain the opportunity to meet people similar to them from different corners of the globe.

What did you learn about yourself?

From this project, I have learned the importance of  maintaining patience and perseverance. I have also learned how to be a stronger leader. Initially, I was not receiving the  number of participants that I had expected, so I collaborated with my team at the Epilepsy Foundation of Colorado and brainstormed new ways to raise participation levels. I learned to listen and take feedback from those people who had expertise regarding epilepsy and marketing. It is important to be creative and flexible when planned solutions do not work out, because objectives still need to be achieved. It is essential to be patient and focused on the end goal because it is not guaranteed results will occur as quickly as anticipated, or at all. Through the process of developing this program, I have learned how to lead and collaborate with a diverse group of people. I have worked with Marcee as well as the Epilepsy Foundation Youth Council. The Youth Council is diverse and represents varying ages and cognitive abilities. Some of them have epilepsy; and some of them are like me, and have a connection to epilepsy, such as, through a sibling or parent with epilepsy.

Each  pen pal relationships is different. Because of this, I needed to determine how to  adapt the program to suit each pair’s unique needs. One example of this was when there was a non-epileptic brother, Ty, who was paired with an epileptic youth, Dominic. After being paired, Ty’s mother reached out to me to say that Ty would like to be paired with another non-epileptic youth, as he feels like a caregiver in this role with his epileptic brother at home. Ty and his mother felt that his pen pal partnership with Dominic would be a similar dynamic. I fixed this situation by expanding the pen pal partnership to include Ty’s younger brother, who has epilepsy, Nolan. Ty is assisting Nolan in being a pen pal to Dominic. As the Pen Pal Program expands, Ty will receive another pen pal, who will be a better match.

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

Earning my Gold Award will impact me in the future because I have developed leadership skills that I will be able to apply to various aspects of my life. From my experiences during the development of my Gold Award, I now know what makes a good leader. A good leader is one who listens to his or her peers, applies the feedback given, and is able to work in a collaborative environment. Good leaders need to be able to recognize that they do not know everything, and that there may be other people who have more knowledge in certain areas. In the future, I will be a better leader because of the skills I have gained from developing this program. Some of the skills I have gained are the ability to “think on my feet,” the importance of collaboration, and the ability to problem solve with a team quickly and efficiently.

Why do you feel the Gold Award was an important part of your Girl Scout experience?

The Gold Award was undoubtedly an important part of my Girl Scout experience. It taught me many valuable skills such as how to lead a diverse group and how to adapt to different situations quickly. Developing my Gold Award also provided me with experiences I would have not had otherwise. I would not have had the opportunity to work with the Epilepsy Foundation of Colorado and provide these youth with the ability to create friendships for the future. I feel that through developing my Gold Award, I was able to use all the skills I have developed throughout my years in Girl Scouting.

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 leader and an innovator. It helped me become a leader because I discovered the traits that make a  good leader as well as how to lead a diverse group of people. Good leaders listen to their peers, apply the feedback given, and work in a collaborative manner. Strong leaders recognize that they do not know everything, and can defer to others with more knowledge and experience when necessary.

Earning my Gold Award helped me to become an innovator because when things did not go as planned, I had to collaborate with my team to quickly devise a solution. I became an innovator because developing The Pen Pal Program was a unique means of addressing social isolation in epileptic youth.

**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

The Little Children That Could and their Teachers: Inspiring Children and Adults through my Gold Award

Submitted by Madeline F.

Metro Denver

Englewood

This past month, I was invited to participate in the CCIRA’s (Colorado Chapter of the International Reading Association) annual reading conference. More than 1,500 principals and teachers from all over Colorado came and went throughout this conference to learn how they can impact children’s lives through new reading and writing techniques. Their vision is that all people will be empowered to critically engage in our changing world by developing and utilizing literacy skills throughout life. As an advocate for reading and writing, I was very grateful that I got to share my Gold Award project to help CCIRA spread their message. At this conference, I got to create a display to show my Gold Award, as well as attend different sessions with authors who gave me new ideas to add to my project.

My Gold Award is a hands-on program to help children read more, learn from what they read, and inspire them to use the lessons they learn in their everyday lives. I used interactive games and activities to help children comprehend the book and also increase their love for reading. By showing how characters in books can be role models and by making their own books, I want children to gain confidence and excitement from reading and writing. With the knowledge they learn from this program, they can make an impact in their own communities. During this conference, I got to talk to several teachers, who had the same goal as I did, about this program. I talked with them about implementing my program in their classrooms because I saw an increase in popularity for reading sessions at the Boys and Girls Club. Sharing my display was really inspiring to me because it showed me that there are others with the same passion with whom I could share ideas. It also showed that I can take action in my community and spread a program that will impact a very common problem in our community.

To learn more about my project go to www.thelittlechildrenwhocould.weebly.com.

This event has helped me embrace being a G.I.R.L. Being a go-getter allowed me to talk to teachers about my project and my ideas. As an innovator, I was able to create a Gold Award project that inspired children to read more and use what they read to make a difference. Also, being a risk-taker caused me to come out of my shell and be confident about my project and my passions. Because I am a leader, I took the initiative to create innovative ideas and I shared them with the world so that the issue that I was passionate about can be reduced.

This story was submitted using the Share Your Stories form. You can share your Girl Scout moments, too.