From “Proud Troop Leader” Monica Hobbs
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To earn their Girl Scout Bronze Award, one of the highest awards in Girl Scouts, 5th grade Junior Troop 1947 of Steele Elementary in Colorado Springs, aimed to get a crosswalk at a dangerous intersection near their school. Neighbors had tried for years and suggested maybe the city would listen to Girl Scouts.
The four members – Kalyana, Alexa, Chloe and Lauren – divided up the responsibilities – school, neighborhood, city and media – and when a city traffic engineer gave them a flat out “no,” it didn’t stop them. They researched safe options and built a support team of neighbors and experts; made a PowerPoint presentation of their findings and a video of the intersection and got the support of their neighborhood association board and school; they collected signatures on a petition and even found funding with a grant. Alexa Huesgen Hobbs said,”It was so exciting to see how everyone wanted to help us – most of the things we found out just by talking to people.”
Their advisors told them to take it to the citizen’s forum at City Hall, but first meet one-on-one with a couple key City Council members. (In fact, one of the City Council people they worked with was Jan Martin, a former Girl Scout and Girl Scout Woman of Distinction, who are women leaders in the community.) To create buzz and generate support on the day of the presentation the troop placed signs at the dangerous intersection, invited neighbors to attend and contacted the local media. The media story ran as the second story on the 5 o’clock news and lead at 10 and was front page on the local paper’s website, being picked up by other internet news sources to include MSNBC (this story includes a link to the video the troop created about the intersection). The next day the newspaper story ran big in print on the third page! Chloe Hilby said,”It felt awesome trying to help the community.”
The troop was able to get support from the City Council in these ways. The Council not only gave the Girl Scouts a “yes,” but praised them for their well prepared and thorough presentation, and, most importantly, for not taking “no” for an answer. They wanted young people to know that they really can make a difference. (View video of the troop’s presentation to the City Council) Kalyana Gallagher said, “It was a great experience and super fun! I learned teamwork, responsibility and safety, for sure.” Lauren Sutz added, “I learned that it is more important to help the community than yourself. When you help the community you are helping yourself.”
Did I mention these girls are 10 years old?
Girl Scouts of the USA also covered this story on their blog