Friday, January 12, 2018

Girl Scout Gold Award Weekly Highlights



Check out this week’s sampling of go-getting, innovating, risk-taking Gold Award Girl Scouts—young women who know what it means to lead with true G.I.R.L. spirit!

Girl Scouts Hornet’s Nest Council 

Plastic grocery bags are a part of many people’s lives, but because they can’t easily be recycled (many curbside recycling programs don’t provide the necessary collection system and processing equipment), unfortunately they often end up in a landfill. Leave it to a Gold Award Girl Scout to find a solution! Haylah is using these plastic bags to make sleeping mats for homeless people in her community. The mats are lightweight, portable, and provide people with a dry place to rest and/or a cover in the cold—and each mat keeps a whopping 1,000 plastic bags out of landfills! In true Gold Award Girl Scout fashion, Haylah has found a way to make her project sustainable, ensuring that her community and nearby communities continue to make the mats even once she’s reached her goal.

Learn more about Haylah and her project.

Girl Scouts of Oregon and Southwest Washington 

Gold Award Girl Scout Quinn is working hard to make sure more kids can smile proudly, by rounding up basic dental supplies and information for those in underserved communities in her area. After shadowing a local elementary school, Quinn was shocked by the number of children with poor dental hygiene, and that’s when Operation Tooth Fairy was born. “It was just totally shocking,” she said. “I looked more into it and it turns out a lot of kids in low-income situations start kindergarten with a lot of decay because they haven’t had a lot of care.” It’s hardly a surprise—she’s a Girl Scout, after all!—that Quinn challenged herself to address this pressing need, then did just that.

Learn more about Quinn and Operation Tooth Fairy.


Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois

A passion for karate led this Gold Award Girl Scout to make a big change in her community. For her Gold Award project, From Victim to Victor, Brenna hosted a series of self-defense classes for young girls and teenagers in her community, developing a curriculum that teaches self-defense techniques and recording videos that demonstrate self-defense moves and personal safety tips. She published the videos on a Facebook page, where she also promoted her self-defense classes and local news interviews she’d taken part in. Through her project, go-getter Brenna was able to boost participants’ confidence in responding to potentially dangerous situations—talk about a win.


Learn more about Brenna and From Victim to Victor.





Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois

“Mapping [her] path” is exactly what Girl Scout Samantha set out to do in earning her Girl Scout Gold Award. Combining her interests in geography, painting, and playing games, she designed and painted a large United States map inside a local school and created an interactive activity to inspire student to learn more about different parts of the country. Then Samantha brought her love of games outside, plotting and painting a giant board game, two “mirror me” sites, two long-jump markers, and an enormous obstacle course. “I gained better leadership and organizational skills,” she said, “including time management, patience, and a stronger sense of respect for authority.”


Learn more about Samantha and Mapping Your Path.
Monday, January 8, 2018

Gold Award Girl Scout Shares How Her Council Dunked Their Way Into a Guinness World Record

It’s that time of year again! Cookie season is finally upon us, and I can think of no better way to kick it off than with my council’s 2018 Cookie Rally! Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana’s cookie rally was jam-packed with so much to do and see. Walking around Allstate Arena, attendees were able to stop and check out the different booths before the main event. These booths ranged from different sponsors to representatives from the different Girl Scout grade levels to the amazingly talented singers Carly and Martina (both Girl Scouts!) to my booth highlighting the 2017 Cookie CEOs (the top five cookie sellers from my council).

While signing autographs with the other CEOs, we heard and saw the excitement that was brewing for the rally—the attempt to break the Guinness World Record to dunk the most cookies in milk! One of my fellow CEOs and lifetime Girl Scout member Nina G. said, “I cannot wait till the rally starts! It is so cool that we all came together today to try and break this world record! This is all so crazy, and I am so excited!”

After everyone took their seats, Carly and Martina sang some of their original songs from their new album and some covers of pop songs to get the crowd going and hyped up for the big dunk. The donated milk from Fairlife was passed out to everyone in the stadium along with cups and the cookies! The milk was poured, the rules were announced, and the cookies were ready in everyone’s hands. Then we heard “three, two, one, DUNK!” from the Guinness World Record official and everyone dunked their cookies as the siren went off. Contestants also had to take a bite of each cookie for the dunk to count. Because everyone brought their dunking A game, we broke the Guinness World Record! This definitely was the best way to start cookie season!



Speaking of cookies, as a Girl Scout for more than 13 years, I have benefited from the Girl Scout Cookie Program immensely. I have learned so much. Different skills like fast math and socializing became second nature as soon as I put that uniform on and set up my booth. Throughout the cookie seasons, I have learned sales skills, which I use when people are hesitant to buy cookies. Putting on my biggest Girl Scout smile and being able to talk about all the benefits of purchasing cookies has helped me a ton. Thanks to the cookie program and the earnings my troop has received, we have been able to travel to a vast number of places and give back to so many people. I was also able to use some of my own cookie earnings to give back through my Girl Scout Gold Award project—the highest achievement in Girl Scouts.

I received my Gold Award in February 2017. It started as a small idea that came from watching the daily news one morning in August 2016. I learned about the devastating floods in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Due to the storms, hundreds of families lost their homes, and children were being sent to temporary schools. I wanted to help, so I contacted the local Archdiocese and asked what I could do for the affected school children. I then ran several fundraisers, met with community leaders, and enlisted the help of some neighborhood parishes. With all this help, I was able to collect and bring 6,000 school supplies to the families of St. John the Evangelist Parish. This parish had to push back the start of school due to the damages left from the flooding. In October 2016, I was granted the opportunity to deliver the supplies myself. After meeting some of the flood victims and seeing the conditions that they had to endure, I was overcome with emotions, and the experience helped me appreciate all that I had. My time in Baton Rouge was one I will never forget, and it has also helped me see that with determination and passion, anything I do has the power to change someone's life.



My advice to girls pursuing their Gold Awards is that no dream or idea is too big. The craziest and most unique ideas can turn into something so amazing. It may seem so overwhelming right now, but trust me, you got this! You all have the power to change the world and are truly making a difference right now.

Good luck this cookie season, Girl Scouts!

Guest blog by Mairead S., a Gold Award Girl Scout from Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana
Thursday, January 4, 2018

Gold Award Girl Scout Brings STEM to the Catwalk

Maureen “Reeny” B. is a 2017 National Young Woman of Distinction from Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland. As part of her Gold Award project, she designed and created fashion accessories she dubbed “Illumicize” that progressively light up in response to increases in heart rate. But that was just the beginning. Maureen went on to host a series of Catwalk Coding camps—instructional courses designed to attract girls in low-income communities to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Today she updates us on her camps and how they’re affecting girls around the world.



I began my free Catwalk Coding educational camps in order to show young women trying out STEM fields that traditionally “feminine” interests are not, as societal pressures would have us believe, at odds with capability and success in male-dominated STEM fields. During camp, 25 girls from in and around Wichita, Kansas, learn how to design and manufacture their own light-up outfits and accessories. I teach them to code, wire, and solder their accessories, which they show off in a runway show extravaganza for friends, family, and local women who work in STEM.

Every time I run the camp, I find that young women appreciate being shown that their interests aren’t frivolous because they’re “girly.” I hope to see young girls no longer taught that they need to adapt to fit into patriarchal STEM cultures but rather introduced to STEM fields in a way that meets their needs as women.

Last November, I conducted my first international iteration of Catwalk Coding in the Santa Fe district of Mexico City, Mexico! The interest the program amassed was immense—nearly 100 girls attended! Despite some language barrier struggles on my end, I taught the girls electronic circuitry and coding while they practiced skills in soldering and sewing with conductive thread to construct their personalized T-shirts. The final runway show, although very simply staged within the small community center in a particularly low-income part of the district, was so remarkable for the confidence these young women displayed, which was exactly what I’d hoped to see in a Catwalk Coding experience. These girls (as young as six!) approached the project with an unwavering determination that propelled them toward innovative solutions and wonderfully creative products.

This iteration of my camp, maybe moreso than any other, has reinstilled me with confidence in my message and the way I’ve chosen to communicate my interpretation of feminism to young women. As I approach college, I have begun to wrestle with the question of how to continue to extend Catwalk Coding’s reach. I recently partnered with the National Center for Women and Information Technology to engineer a miniature version of Catwalk Coding through which the accessories are worn by educational dolls whose clothes may be programmed to illuminate in different colors and patterns through four different types of e-textiles sewn into the dolls’ headbands, necklines, waistlines, and skirts. These elaborate dresses are constructed so the fabric can be lifted to view and girls can easily learn from the simple circuitry.

The two intensely stylish doll prototypes I’ve completed so far, “Paris” and “Hollywood,” will be exhibited at various conferences and outreach programs throughout the United States. These dolls will hopefully act as an accessible gateway tool for young girls to have their first coding experiences and will promote the philosophy of my Catwalk Coding program to integrate traditionally “feminine” interests and experiences into teaching valuable STEM skills. Additionally, I am currently perfecting the code on an adult-size dress, which I wear at my events to affirm that I shouldn’t have to downplay my fabulousness in order to be taken seriously as a programmer and innovator.

I would just like to stress how incredibly thankful I am to have had the support of my Girl Scout community throughout this process. These girls and women initially encouraged me in my vision of passing on the support I’ve experienced to other young women. Becoming one of Girl Scouts’ National Young Women of Distinction has inspired and connected me with female innovators and activists across the country. Such incredible women have served as my role models, showing me what it is to be a strong woman and helping me define my place among a vast network of powerful girls.


Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Girl Scouts Kicks Off Next Century of Female Entrepreneurs This Cookie Season



Today, Girl Scouts enters its second century of Girl Scouts selling cookies! Given that more than half (57 percent) of Girl Scout alumnae in business fields credit the Girl Scout Cookie Program® with developing skills they use today—including money management, goal setting, and public speaking—selling Girl Scout Cookies has helped millions of female entrepreneurs over the past 100 years spark their careers.

During Girl Scout Cookie season, participating Girl Scouts across the country show their G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™ spirit as they sell delicious cookies, building essential entrepreneurial skills along the way that are imperative to leadership and future success. And the funds from every cookie purchase power amazing experiences for girls year-round, like camping adventures, world traveling, Take Action projects that benefit their community, and more!

That’s because all of the net revenue from cookie sales—100 percent of it—stays within a Girl Scout council’s local area to benefit girls. Councils depend on cookie earnings to run their programming, and girls decide how to invest their troop’s portion of the earnings in impactful community projects and personal enrichment opportunities.

This season, troops nationwide are also welcoming the return of the Girl Scout S’mores® cookie, the most popular flavor to launch in the 101 years of Girl Scouts selling cookies. Consumers can fuel transformative leadership experiences for girls and help build the next generation of female entrepreneurs by purchasing Girl Scout S’mores as well as classic favorites like Thin Mints®, Caramel deLites®/Samoas®, and more.

Last year, Girl Scouts of the USA debuted two versions of Girl Scout S’mores—a crispy graham cookie double-dipped in a crème icing and enrobed in a chocolatey coating, and a crunchy graham sandwich cookie with a chocolate and marshmallowy filling and embossed with designs honoring Girl Scouts’ Outdoor badges. They’re sure to be best-sellers again this year!

For the current season, girls will sell cookies door-to-door and at booths, as well as through the Digital Cookie® platform, an innovative and educational web-based addition to the cookie program through which girls run and manage their Girl Scout Cookie businesses online. Now in its fourth year, the Digital Cookie platform continues to keep Girl Scout programming current and relevant to today’s girls by providing them with valuable business and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills that prepare them for 21st-century leadership.

Additionally, Girl Scouts will celebrate the next century of female entrepreneurs during National Girl Scout Cookie Weekend 2018! February 23–25, Girl Scout councils nationwide will host exciting events and set up booths so that cookie enthusiasts can get their hands on the iconic treats and join in on the fun.

To find Girl Scouts selling cookies near you, visit www.girlscoutcookies.org or use the official Girl Scout Cookie Finder app, free on iOS and Android devices.
Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Boundary-Breaking, World-Changing G.I.R.L.s of 2017


Every girl has the power to tap into her G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader) spirit™, but there are always standout moments in which Girl Scouts exemplify these traits in unexpected ways. Here are a few of our favorite G.I.R.L. stories, which inspired people this year in communities across the United States as well as the globe.

Go-Getters

Throughout the National Park Service, Girl Scouts can complete requirements to earn Junior Ranger patches. Although many girls earn several of these patches during their outdoor adventures, Shiloh from Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson has taken patch earning to a whole new level by collecting a whopping 57 Junior Ranger patches! We know this outdoor go-getter inspired others to explore the program.
Brownie Yzzy may have been diagnosed with systemic mastocytosis and hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, but that hasn’t stopped her from being a go-getter! While in the hospital, Yzzy channeled her energy into selling Girl Scout Cookies to the nurses on her hospital floor with one goal in mind—a trip to Disney World. She also donated 120 boxes of cookies to the oncology unit. Yzzy has inspired her sister Girl Scouts—and everyone who crosses her path!
Since we shared her story in February, Yzzy’s health has steadily been improving! She attended camp; returned to school; and, according to updates on Yssabelle's Journey, this G.I.R.L. is thriving!

While selling Girl Scout Cookies with her dad, Phoenyx encountered a deaf cookie customer who wrote on a piece of paper asking Phoenyx to return later, when someone else would be home. This incident inspired go-getting Phoenyx to learn American Sign Language—not only to communicate with cookie customers in the future but also to master a lifelong skill.

Innovators


Girl Scouts have been breaking boundaries and innovating outdoors for more than a century, and that tradition continues in full force today! Troops from Girl Scouts of Utah built three cabins at Trefoil Ranch without using a single drop of glue, binders, adhesives, or other products with volatile organic compounds. This project gave the girls the opportunity to engage with a local university and learn about community-based approaches of including architects, clients, stakeholders, and other parties in the construction process.

Girl Scout Jordan was born with a left arm that stops just below the elbow, but she hasn’t let that slow her down! This innovator created her own prosthetic arm (AKA Project Unicorn) that shoots glitter, and alongside her mom, she set up Born Just Right, a nonprofit that helps more kids like her. Jordan’s combination of tech skills, sense of humor, and love of glitter means that the world hasn’t seen the last of this innovator!

Risk-Takers

Audrielle, who has spina bifida and uses a wheelchair, faced her fears and took risks at day camp with Girl Scouts of Western Ohio this summer. With some modifications and support from amazing volunteers and her Girl Scout sisters, she made new friends, swam in the lake, and even tackled the climbing wall!

Ten-year-old Alice noticed that more boys than girls in her class were willing to raise their hands and ask questions, so she theorized that girls were worried about being embarrassed. After consulting her Girl Scout troop about her observation, the girls developed a patch to encourage more girls to take a risk, raise their hands, and take a stand. The national attention the patch received has sparked conversation—and will hopefully encourage all girls to raise their hands!

Leaders


Girl Scouts who are awarded the Bronze Cross have taken on the ultimate leadership role—quick action to save others’ lives.The stories of these brave girls are endless, and they often credit Girl Scouts for the training that gave them the confidence to jump in! Join the applause for:

· Katie, who saved a fellow student when a car jumped the curb
· Melissa, who was able to stop an attempted child abduction
· Kylin, who saved a fellow swimmer, and Mara, who saved her brother from drowning
· Kristin, who administered emergency treatment when her mom was seriously injured
· Lila, who was able to save her grandmother from choking during a family meal


In California, Troops 3119 and 3357 are taking are taking the lead to combat racial bias and make a difference in their community. With a focus on education and inclusivity, the troops have hosted Open Mosque days and an iftar meal to break the Ramadan fast. These events have given them the chance to answer questions about Islam and what it means to be a contemporary Muslim girl—and a Girl Scout.


Every year, Girl Scouts honors ten truly exceptional Gold Award Girl Scouts as National Young Women of Distinction. Their Gold Award projects demonstrated extraordinary leadership, had a measurable and sustainable impact, and addressed a local challenge related to a national or global issue. In 2017, the National Young Women of Distinction did everything from help farmers with water conservation to assist girls in rural India with feminine health and hygiene to collect change at airport security checks for charity. These young women are taking matters into their own hands, generating much-needed change, and leading the charge to make a difference in the world.

Of course, there are thousands of other G.I.R.L. stories from girls of all ages and backgrounds. Look for them in your community, support their ideas, and applaud the challenges they're taking on every day. If you have a great Girl Scout story, share it with us on Facebook or Twitter!