Girl Scouts truly make the world a better place!
Addressing Food Insecurity
Madison D., a Girl Scout Ambassador in 12th grade, has incorporated many skills learned through her 13 years as a Girl Scout to earn her Girl Scout Gold Award. Her Gold Award project tackled the issue of student food insecurity by initiating a Backpack Program in her school district for any student, K-12, who needs extra food during school vacations and long weekends. Food insecurity is a serious problem across the U.S. where 13 million kids struggle with hunger and having enough to eat; most are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches during the school day but may face challenges when school is not opened on long weekends or vacations.
Madison began by planning and organizing her program with school administrators, teachers and community agencies to help raise awareness and donations in the community for the backpacks and food. By Memorial Day Weekend 2019 she had enough money to start buying food and sent home flyers with students about the program. She handed out 16 backpacks that weekend as well as setup a booth at the local parade that weekend to hand out flyers and educate the community.
She continued the program during the seven-week summer school session and in the fall the program was expanded to help students each week. She was successful in getting Lowe’s to donate a shed for storing bins of extra backpacks. The community continues to support the program through monetary and food donations.
Madison shared that the program can be overwhelming and there are nights when she is up late putting backpacks together or buying food, but she admits that if she had it to do all over again, she would. “There is no better feeling than knowing you are helping students in need and they know they can come to you if they need something.”
Sierra R., a Girl Scout Alum who is now a college student, was concerned about pollution and sustainable agriculture. She worked with her high school to build a functioning aquaponic system to help students see the future of agriculture and conservation. She also created a legacy mentoring program where a rising junior would learn from an outgoing senior how to maintain the system and teach others about it. This ensures that future students - including those in middle school - would learn about the system.
Sierra received donations of supplies to build parts of the system, and used money she earned through the Girl Scout Cookie Program to fund the remainder of her project. Sierra was the top selling Girl Scout in GSNENY for many years.
The Importance of Mental Health
Abigail P. has seen many of her peers suffering from mental illness and the challenges they face when they don't know what to do or how to access help. She created her Girl Scout Gold Award project to provide education and point out existing resources that are available. Abigail worked with school social workers, health educators, and school administrators to create a presentation geared for teenagers about the importance of mental health and increase awareness about different mental illnesses. She tied her presentation to her district's existing health week.
Abigail gave her presentation three times in her district. Her presentation included a PowerPoint, which is now available to everyone via a YouTube video. Pamphlets from the Office of Mental Health were provided to all audience members.
Abigail received immediate feedback from both teenagers and adult audience members on how mental health has affected them or their loved ones, and how important this information is. She shared her presentation on her social media channels, as well as an online survey to receive more feedback from more teenagers. The school district's social worker plans to show Abigail's presentation every year to educate teenagers about mental health.
Sisters Grow Through Girl Scouts
Girls have thousands of Girl Scout sisters to meet in Girl Scouting, but our programs also help real-life sisters learn and grow. When Anna was younger, she couldn’t wait to follow in her sister’s footsteps and be a Girl Scout! She had heard how much fun her sister Josie had during her many outdoor adventures: horseback riding, kayaking, sleeping in a lean-to, performing on stage, learning knot tying and outdoor cooking skills, among many others. When Anna became a Girl Scout Daisy, she started having her own great adventures. She made new friends, explored nature, and received support as she tested out her leadership skills. Both sisters learned the importance of helping others and social responsibility as they completed many community service projects with their Girl Scout troops.