Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Spotlight on National Young Woman of Distinction, Anna Krauss

The National Young Women of Distinction honor is given by Girl Scouts of the USA to the top ten Girl Scout Gold Award recipients whose Take Action projects demonstrated outstanding leadership, had a measurable and sustainable impact, and addressed a local challenge related to a national and/or global issue. The girls and their projects will be showcased on the blog in advance of being honored at the 2014 Girl Scout Convention in Salt Lake City this October.

Anna Krauss: A Voice for Those Who Can’t Listen
Age: 18
Hometown: Manorville, New York
Years of Girl Scouting: 14


No matter the number of times a test proctor of the English Language Arts regent exams reads a passage aloud, Anna could not hear them. Anna is deaf, and, like all other students in the state, for her the listening portion of the exam was mandatory. The only additional accommodations afforded to students like Anna were extended time and a third or fourth reading of the passage.

For Anna and other deaf students, these accommodations were not so accommodating after all. Unable to hear, they were unable to listen. As Anna says, it turned what was simply one part of her identity into a disability. Lip reading and sign language couldn’t fill the gap. There was a much larger problem in need of fixing. So Anna decided to be the one to take on the task.

How Anna Is Changing the World:

The challenge was how to make the information equally accessible to all students. And the solution, Anna found, was simple: Allow deaf students to read the passage themselves.

With hundreds of emails, website submissions, and letters written, Anna got the attention of the state board of education, the governor’s office, and the senator’s office. It took three years of lobbying before a letter came from New York State Commissioner of Education John B. King Jr. affirming that the Test Access Accommodations Guidelines for students With Disabilities had been altered to provide written transcripts during the listening portion of the exam.

The joy Anna experienced completing her project came from knowing that she had prevented others from feeling that deafness is a barrier to success, a diploma, or realizing their dreams.

Next Steps:

Anna will be studying biotechnology and molecular bioscience at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Someday, she hopes to be a teacher for the deaf. Until then, she is a proud advocate!
Friday, August 22, 2014

Let's Convention! Make the Trek to Trefoil Ranch!

This year, Girl Scouts of Utah is the host of the Girl Scouts’ 53rd national convention in the spectacular Salt Lake City, Utah, October 16–19, 2014. If you love outdoor adventures, if camp is in your blood, or if you’d just like to get out and experience the natural beauty of Utah, we invite you to register here and join Girl Scouts of Utah on October 16 as we take you on an adventure to discover and tour our remarkable Trefoil Ranch.

You’ll travel by coach to this picturesque camp with facilities that excite beginning riders and skilled equestrians alike. Once there, you’ll learn all about our A.I.A. award–winning collaborative partnership with the University of Utah’s College of Architecture, through which girls engaged in STEM programming and worked directly with architecture students to build sustainable cabins. You’ll also tour the cabins, constructed of locally sourced timber made from beetle-kill pine, and hear about the girls’ experiences with space planning and building design, as well as what they learned about sustainability, material fabrication, and construction.

The University of Utah’s architecture partners will join us on the tour to share how you can take the lessons learned from Utah and build your own partnerships with colleges, universities, and businesses in your area. You’ll also have the opportunity to learn about the year-round programming at Trefoil Ranch and Camp Cloud Rim, and discover how to create your own cooperative enterprises with elements of learning, skill building, teaching, inspiration, and environmental stewardship built right in.

All outdoor program managers, camp directors, property managers, executive leadership, and outdoor enthusiasts are invited to join us as we explore how Utah’s best practices can be taken back to local councils. Get all of the information here!

This is your year to reunite with friends, deepen and share your knowledge of Girl Scouts, and help invigorate a global movement of girls, women, and men around the theme "Discover, Connect, Take Action: Girls Change the World."

Learn more about attending, including discounted travel arrangements and special gatherings that start a few days before convention's official kickoff (including Girl Scout History Conference 2014 and several learning opportunities).  Register Now!
Thursday, August 21, 2014

5 Ways to Get Your Girl Ready for Kindergarten

Pencils, backpacks, and school buses. New friends, new teachers and a brand new schedule every morning. Starting school brings a lot of change for both you and your daughter. But there are a few simple things you can do to help her walk through doors on her first day not only ready to learn, but with a big smile and a sense of confidence.

From Girl Scouts For Adults, here are 5 ways to prepare her for a happy, safe (and fun) start to her first ever school year: 
  1. A little independence goes a long way. This is especially important if your daughter has never been away from home all day. Start small. Work on your child’s ability to do basic physical things for themselves before school starts. Can she put on and take off shoes? Check. Zip up her coat? Check. Does she know how to navigate the bathroom independently at potty time? Check. And remember, tights are tough. So is anything with lots of complicated zips, buttons and snaps. Kindergarten is a place to play, run, climb and learn, so the fancy dress you bought last week might be best saved for your next special occasion rather than her first day of school.
  2. Get to know the school. Lots of schools set aside a day to let incoming kindergartners and parents get familiar with the classroom, so take advantage of the opportunity or ask to schedule a special visit. Get beyond the classroom—show your child the hallways, the bathroom and other important places like the library too. And don’t forget the fun—make sure you leave some playground time.
  3. Take turns telling a story with your girl. Even if she’s the social butterfly in your neighborhood or within the family, she still may need a little boost to help her communicate with others in a new setting. Tell a piece of the story as your child listens and ask her to pick up where you left off. It’s not only fun, but also really develops the listening and communication skills that will give her a smooth transition into kindergarten. Reading bedtime stories is helpful too. Try stories and books about kindergarten, as the first day gets closer. Want to see more activities you can do to help your daughter get ready for school? Here’s a list of suggestions.
  4. Do a practice run. A few days before school starts, set the alarm for the new wake up time, visit the bus stop, or walk the route to school. If you have neighbors who will be attending the same school, it might be a great time to find your bus buddy—or a friendly face to join her on the first ever walk to school.
  5. Kindness counts. Friendships are important, but if this will be the first time you don’t choose her friends, just remember one thing: That’s ok. To reinforce the skills that will help her make new friends, let her know when you see those positive behaviors in action. Like the way she shared with a younger sibling or neighborhood playmate? Tell her. Did she notice someone was sad and try to cheer her up? Let her know what a nice thing she did. And when kids aren’t kind: Make sure she’s just as comfortable as her brother is speaking up for herself and being her own advocate.
Looking for more things to do with your daughter? Check out more tips and activities you can do together to help her get ready for school.
Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Girl Scouts Take Top Awards at Solar Car Race!

Girl Scouts Heart of the South has some news to share! Girl Scout Troops 10103 and 13361 took home top honors in Memphis Light, Gas and Water’s “A-Blazing Model Solar Car Race”. The object of the competition was to design and build a vehicle powered strictly by solar power using recycled materials and a special kit containing a solar panel and motor.

Participants were instructed to use the kits along with various recycled materials to design and construct a vehicle to race on a 20-meter course. After a series of head-to-head elimination rounds, Girl Scout Troop 10103 from Collierville won first place in the Middle School Division with their car, “Samoa Fun.”   Awards were also presented for speed and design. Girl Scout Troop 13361 from Cordova won first place overall in the “Best Use of Recycled Materials” category with their entry. The Cordova girls were thrilled to be honored for their creativity but said they are excited for next year’s event where they hope to build a vehicle that takes top honors for design and wins the race as well!

The Girl Scouts Heart of the South council was a proud partner of the event along with the Chickasaw Council of the Boy Scouts of America, The University of Memphis, Christian Brothers University and The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).
Monday, August 18, 2014

Both Girls and Volunteers Benefit from Their Experience in Girl Scouts

Girl Scouts really is great for everyone! While there are possibly too many positive outcomes associated with being a member of Girl Scouts to list, there is some compelling research which illustrates just how good Girl Scouts is.

Results of a summer 2014 pulse poll conducted with more than 3,500 volunteers and parents of Girl Scouts in the K−5 age range show positive effects on members of all ages. Ninety-seven percent of parents agree that Girl Scouts has been a positive activity for their daughter, that she has had fun and exciting new experiences (95 percent), and that she has learned or tried something new (96 percent). In addition, 94 percent of parents say that because of Girl Scouts, their daughter feels special, has more friends (95 percent), is more confident (90 percent), and is happier (89 percent).

While GSUSA boasts more than two million members nationwide, there are more than 30,000 girls on waiting lists who want to join Girl Scouts but can’t because there are not enough volunteers in local communities to help deliver the Girl Scout experience. Data shows it is not just girls who benefit from participating in the organization: 94 percent of volunteers have made new friends, 88 percent believe their life is better because they volunteer with Girl Scouts, and two-thirds believe their volunteer experience has helped them professionally. Ninety-five percent of Girl Scout volunteers are happy knowing they are making girls’ lives better.

"Girl Scouts has provided a safe, fun, and engaging place for girls and adult volunteers to lead and thrive for over 100 years," said Anna Maria Chávez, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA. "We know the majority of volunteers feel their Girl Scout experience has helped them both personally and professionally, but in many places throughout the country, the lack of volunteers is what keeps girls on waiting lists. Every adult who volunteers for Girl Scouts can help us bring fun, new experiences to at least five girls. Imagine what that can do to shape the next generation of female leaders."

Girl Scouts gives girls a place to explore topics of interest in a judgment-free space outside of classroom confinements, and it cultivates cooperative and self-directed learning, as well as the growth mindset (the understanding that intelligence and talent can be developed)—all of which help foster a lifetime passion for learning. The variety of experiences and the value for the money the Girl Scout program provides are also popular selling points. Eighty-nine percent of parents say their daughter gets a greater variety of experiences from Girl Scouts than she does from other extracurricular activities, and the majority of parents feel Girl Scouts is a great value for the money compared to other extracurricular activities. Overall, parents consider Girl Scouts one of the most beneficial extracurricular activities for their daughter.

“The value of the all-girl, girl-led environment offered by Girl Scouts cannot be overstated, and is so important to the social-emotional and personal development of girls,” said Dr. Andrea Bastiani-Archibald, Chief Girl Expert at Girl Scouts of the USA. “Girl Scouts is a place where girls are free to be girls; to try new things, experiment, and have fun learning from and leading one another. There is no other leadership development program in the world that offers girls this inclusive, safe space, without the distractions and pressures of school and other social settings.”

Girl Scouts is open to all girls from kindergarten through grade 12. The more adults step forward to volunteer, the more girls will get the chance to be a Girl Scout. Adults over age 18 may become volunteers, and both girls and adult volunteers can join at any time of the year. Girl Scout volunteers come from all walks of life; they are men, women, young professionals, retirees, college students, and more. To join or volunteer, please visit: www.girlscouts.org/join.