What did you do for your Gold Award project?
My project addresses the lack of education surrounding the awareness of and interaction with those with disabilities. I addressed the issue of what a disability is, the acknowledgement that not all disabilities can be seen, introduced the concept of people first language, and what it means to be inclusive.
How did you measure the impact your Gold Award project made on your target audience?
At the beginning of my presentation I asked how many of my audience members knew someone with a disability, as well as if they knew that vision loss and blindness are within the top 10 disabilities. One of the activities I had my audience members participate in was called “Disability for a Day.” This is a simulation of what it is like to live with a disability. This includes trying to button a shirt while wearing mittens, playing patty cake while wearing Vaseline covered glasses, walking around on crutches, and wearing a knee brace. This activity helped the students to get a better understanding of what some disabilities might be. This activity was closely followed by a discussion on how they, the students, were going to be inclusive, and a challenge for them to do that when the opportunity arises.
How is your project sustainable? How will your project continue to impact after your involvement?
My project is to be sustained through the EXPAND program. The Exciting Programs, Adventures, and New Dimensions (EXPAND) program helps people who have disabilities improve and gain new recreation and leisure skills that will enhance the participants’ overall well-being and their quality of life. My presentation will be used when presenting to younger age groups by the EXPAND program. I have also created a website where I have placed a link to my presentation. It will be open for others to use as a guideline if they are looking to create a presentation. The website includes pages on what disabilities are, ways to be inclusive, and examples of how to simulate disabilities. This website has been placed on social media pages and will be posted on an international blog.
What is your project’s global and/or national connection?
Disabilities affect people of all cultures; they are not limited strictly to Americans. As part of the project’s sustainability, I have located blogs both nationally and internationally, on which to share my experience and post a link to my website/social media pages as resources for others. My hope is that with my project people will be able to transcend cultural boundaries and help those of all nations.
What did you learn about yourself?
As ironic as it sounds, I learned to be myself. I have always felt self-conscious about living up to other’s expectations such that I didn’t always do what I wanted to do. When originally picking my Gold Award topic I had first chosen a topic that I wasn’t 100% committed to. I had an interest, but it wasn’t quite right. At this point, I had little time and I knew that if I wasn’t fully interested in my project, then I wasn’t going to succeed. It wasn’t until I had decided to focus on education about disabilities that I had found what I wanted to do. During this project, I learned that if you want to succeed, then you first have to learn to be yourself. That is when you find what you are looking for.
How will earning your Gold Award impact you in the future?
My Gold Award taught me how to be a leader, face challenges and issues that may arise, and always be an advocate for what I believe in. Earning my Gold Award has helped prepare me to face new challenges that may present themselves in my future.
Why do you feel the Gold Award was an important part of your Girl Scout experience?
This Gold Award was an important part of my Girl Scout experience because it helped me to look beyond myself, troop, and community. With the Gold Award, I was able to apply, reinforce, and fine-tune skills that I developed through my years of Girl Scouts while earning my Bronze and Silver Awards. From kindergarten to senior year, with a troop change, often times my troop(s) and I would look at issues within our community, but with my Gold Award I was able to apply my skills and expand, looking at problems beyond my own community, to both national and international communities.
**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