Monday, January 21, 2019

The Legacy of a Leader, Father, and Friend: A Sit Down with Martin Luther King, III

Today, we remember the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King was a shining example of the G.I.R.L. Agenda in action; he fought fearlessly for the rights of American citizens, and did his part in ensuring he raised civically engaged children, as well. Now, at a time where more girls of all ages are championing real change, we honor the legacy Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. leaves behind, through the eyes of his son, Martin Luther King, III. Without a doubt, Dr. King was man enough to be a Girl Scout. 

By the age of 39, Dr. King had successfully spearheaded a movement marked by freedom, justice, equality, and nonviolence that lit a fire under Americans of all colors and creeds. His dream for this nation was progress—progressing from the unjust laws and practices that disrupted lives and families of color, including his own. On April 4, 1968, when a gunman took his life at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, the world mourned the loss of a leader. Today, we mourn the loss of a unifier in a time of great division. But for the King family, their loss was an intimate one and still is today. They didn’t just lose Dr. King; no, they lost Daddy. They lost a husband, a son, a provider, and a friend. As we commemorate 50 years since the assassination of a hero, let’s also honor the King family and the strength they’ve exhibited as they work to uphold his legacy.

On Monday, February 19, 2018, Martin Luther King, III spent President’s Day in Richmond, Virginia, reading his children’s book, My Daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It’s that very title that inspired us to get to know Dr. King on a more intimate level. Sure, there’s the MLK we research online and in text, but who is MLK the “Daddy”?

“He was just Dad to us,” recalls Mr. King with a smile. Though just ten years old when his father was killed, Mr. King vividly remembers the man behind the marches and demonstrations. He was the simple, loving father who put his children on top of the refrigerator and let them jump into his arms.

“He was always on the road, so what was important for all of us was the quality of time spent, because he didn’t have a large quantity. When we started competing in organized sports, Dad wasn’t able to come to our football, soccer, or basketball games, but he’d always play with us when he’d come home. Many days he’d come home from the office or out of town, and we’d be in the front yard playing. He’d jump right in and join the game.”

When he wasn’t playing in the front yard, Dr. King brought his children along to the local YMCA, where he’d spend hours swimming and getting a massage. That was his primary form of exercise, so of course, he taught his children to swim during the weeks spent regularly visiting the gym. But perhaps the most glaring example of the type of father Dr. King was came in the early 60s, when his children decided they wanted to visit the amusement park they’d pass during car rides to and from the airport.

“There was an amusement park called FunTown, and we’d drive by every time we took Dad to the airport, which seemed like every day,” recounts Mr. King. “It was difficult to see kids eating cotton candy and riding the roller coasters, bumper cars, and Ferris wheel, but as Black children, we weren’t allowed to go. Every time we asked our mom, she’d say, ‘Your dad’s working on that.’”

And he did. Around 1963, the King family visited FunTown for the first time, an occasion so joyous the children forgot they were once banned from ever entering. Dr. King stayed with his children every step of the way, enjoying every rollercoaster in the park.

“Dad loved to ride all the rides,” Mr. King laughs. “There was one ride he called the ‘Faith Machine’ because it took great faith to get on it.”

To innocent children shielded from the gravity of Civil Rights struggles, admission into FunTown was the ultimate victory for desegregation efforts.

“It was the most wonderful experience of my life,” beams Mr. King.

His father’s commitment to global equality never eclipsed his commitment to developing conscious young citizens. On Saturdays he’d return home and prepare his sermon for the next day, and on Sundays, his wife, Coretta Scott King, made breakfast, prayed, and had each child recite their Bible verses. Each breakfast ended with meaningful dialogue about common issues Dr. King was engaged in, such as voting rights and desegregation.

Such discussions were necessary; yes, the King children needed to understand why Daddy spent so many nights away from home, but they also needed context behind the vitriol spewed over telephone lines.

“My mom did an excellent job of shielding us as well as she could,” he remembers of Mrs. King.

In fact, the naive King children knew so little about their father’s prominence that they’d play on the phone when strangers from a mysterious “White House” called their home. Despite how brutal conditions remained outside their doors, and despite how difficult the road remained for Dr. King and his team, Mrs. King made it her mission to protect her children’s innocence at all costs.

On April 4, 1968, that protective shield shattered, and life as the King family knew it would be forever changed. While watching TV one evening, Mr. King and his siblings learned that their father had just been shot.

“One of the greatest traumatic experiences I had was in ’68 when Dad was killed,” he says somberly. “It came across the news: MLK Has Just Been Shot. We were panicked, and ran to my parents’ room to see what was going on. My mom received a call from [Andrew] Young and Jesse Jackson; they said, ‘It’s bad; you might want to come here,’ so she was preparing to go to Memphis. When she got to the airport, the Mayor of Atlanta approached her, and she knew that whatever he was coming to share wasn’t positive. He told her that my father had passed.”

Mrs. King returned home to her children and comforted them with words that remain forever engraved in Mr. King’s memory.

“Your father has gone home to live with God,” she explained with strength in her voice. “When servants of God serve him like your father did, God brings them home to rest. So when you see him, he’ll seem as though he’s sleeping, but he won’t be able to kiss and hug you as he always did. He’s resting, and one day we’ll see him again.”

Mr. King recalls how consoling and comforting her words were in that harrowing moment. He didn’t ask a single question. 

Today, he remains dedicated to achieving his father’s dream, and knows that the society of freedom, justice, and equality is still a tangible goal, and one we’re slowing working our way to.

Mr. King closes with his father’s words: “Cowardice asks, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks, ‘Is it politic?’ Vanity asks, ‘Is it popular?’ But, conscience asks, ‘Is it right?’ Allow conscience to be your guide. Be ashamed to die until you’ve won a victory for humanity.”

This interview was conducted by Janna M. Hall and was adapted from a piece that originally appeared in Urban Views RVA
Tuesday, January 15, 2019

World Thinking Day: It’s Our Time to Lead

Girl Scouts work every day to make the world a better place. It’s just what we do!

But there’s one day a year that’s extra special, a day when girls from more than 150 countries around the planet come together to explore the global dimensions of Girl Scouting and take action to change the world for the better.

Of course, we’re talking about World Thinking Day! It’s coming up on February 22, so let’s get ready to make it one of the best ever.

The theme for World Thinking Day 2019 is leadership—now, that’s an idea we can all support.

This World Thinking Day, let’s take the opportunity to:

Honor the leadership of Girl Scouts and Girl Guides worldwide, and celebrate what it means to be part of this global sisterhood. 

Advocate for positive change on global issues that girls and their supporters care about.

Support international opportunities for girls and young women by contributing to the Juliette Low World Friendship Fund.

A project of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), World Thinking Day is the perfect opportunity for girls to think globally and take action. But first, let’s take a moment to understand why and how World Thinking Day came to be.

The Origins of World Thinking Day

It all dates back to 1926, at the fourth World Conference of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts held at Girl Scouts’ very own Camp Edith Macy (now Edith Macy Conference Center) in New York. The conference delegates agreed that there should be a special day every year when Girl Scouts and Girl Guides around the world think of one another and celebrate global sisterhood. They decided to call it Thinking Day and chose February 22 to celebrate it. (Fun fact: the date was picked to honor the birthdays of Girl Guide founders Lord and Lady Baden-Powell.)

Then, in 1999, at the 30th World Conference in Dublin, Ireland, delegates from around the world wanted to emphasize the international aspect of the day and the global nature of the Girl Scout Movement, so they changed the name to World Thinking Day. 

Every year since, World Thinking Day has called for Girl Scouts and Girl Guides to unite and take part in activities that promote changing the world for the better. 

How You (and Your Troop) Can Participate

World Thinking Day is for everyone—from the youngest, mightiest Daisy to the Ambassador working toward her Gold Award. And it’s super easy to find your inspiration for how to take action in your community and the world at large.

Check out these World Thinking Day resources to get started:

Activity Guide for Girl Scout Daisies, Brownies, and Juniors (PDF) 

Activity Guide for Girl Scout Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors (PDF)

In these convenient, downloadable resources, you’ll find age-appropriate activities for younger girls as well as older girls. The activities fall into three categories: discovering your leadership style, celebrating a sisterhood of leaders, and taking on leadership roles. When girls complete one activity from each category, they’ll earn the World Thinking Day 2019 Award. Although only one activity in each category is required to earn the award, don’t let that stop you—you can do as many as you like!

Now It’s Your Turn to Take the Lead!

Looking for some extra inspiration to make World Thinking Day even more awesome? Check out this amazing story about a group of Brownies who reimagined World Thinking Day to build community. Or this story of a group of Muslim Girl Scouts extending friendship across cultures. That’s what we’re talking about!

To earn your World Thinking Day 2019 Award, try some of our suggested activities. Then tell us how you’re taking the lead through Girl Scouts and Girl Guides—and how you’re celebrating. You can share your story directly with us or post it on social media with #WorldThinkingDay and #TimeToLead!

On World Thinking Day 2019, let’s lead together for a better world.
Wednesday, January 9, 2019

What's Your Advice for First-Time Cookie Sellers?

Girl Scout Cookie season is in full swing! Not only are Girl Scouts selling the iconic cookies millions know and love, but they’re building five essential business skills that’ll prepare them for a lifetime of leadership. Whether a Girl Scout is a cookie-selling veteran or a first-time entrepreneur, there’s so much to be learned about how to run the world’s largest girl-led entrepreneurial program like a pro and keep supporters coming back year after year.

So, we asked the question: What advice do you have for first-time cookie sellers? Troop leaders, alum, and cookie moms and dads weighed in with their best tips and tricks. Here are a few rather helpful answers. Enjoy!

So Girl Scouts, are you ready to run your cookie biz like a pro?

Use Your Imagination, Creativity, and Strategy Superpowers to Win the Cookie Pro Contest!

Hey cookie bosses! This year you can unleash your ultimate G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™ potential for a chance to win the Cookie Entrepreneur Experience of a lifetime featuring the bold and brave DC Super Hero Girls™! The experience includes a trip to sunny California for an epic behind-the-scenes VIP adventure at Warner Bros. Studios—SWEET! Are you as excited about this as we are? If the answer is yes, let’s jump right in. Here’s how it works:

To be considered for the grand prize, highlight your unique cookie story of heroic skill and strength by:

Answering a set of questions and completing a Cookie Pro™ contest entry form, which involves—
  • Creating your own mini graphic novel (it’s easy with our handy template!). Please use one page if you’re a Daisy, Brownie, or Junior, or two pages if you’re a Cadette, Senior, or Ambassador.
  • Submitting a clearly focused photo of yourself.
You might want to channel your inner DC Super Hero Girl by tapping into these three superpowers:
  1. Imagination helps us change our way of thinking and realize new, game-changing ideas. It also makes solving problems easier. How would you tell your story if you were making a super hero movie? Imagine someone reading your cookie story—what would you like them to take away from it? How would you want them to feel inspired?
  2. Creativity helps you tell your story in a more compelling and interesting way. Set aside some time to imagine, sketch, experiment, and explore. Think of how you could get creative with your drawings and characters. What fun, interesting, and unique things happened to you/your troop while running your cookie sale? Where were you? Who was with you? What were they wearing? What was the weather like? What was special about those experiences? How did it make you and those around you feel? How did you unleash your G.I.R.L potential when faced with a challenge or trying something new? You may want to have two creativity sessions and explore your unique cookie story some more or even brainstorm with others—have fun with it!
  3. Strategy helps you plan ahead and think through your story before you even begin sketching it. Consider starting with a written outline of your cookie story, and then think of illustrations that best capture the events that took place. It's OK to mess up too! You can always print another template, dust yourself off, and try again. 
Every Girl Scout has a worthwhile tale to tell for this year’s Cookie Pro contest, no matter how big or seemingly small—it’s all about getting creative and putting that I-can-do-anything cape in motion! So are you ready to enter for your chance to be one of 24 grand-prize winners nationwide? Complete your entry today!
Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Top Reasons You Should Support the Girl Scout Cookie Program (And where your money really goes!)

Girl Scout Cookies are about so much more than the sweet treats we anticipate each season; your purchase powers life-changing adventures for girls while helping them build real-life skills. Here’s how it’s done. 

As the biggest annual financial investment in girls in the United States, the Girl Scout Cookie Program sets the stage for girls to discover their inner leadership potential. All year long, they map out their plans to influence the world around them, be it through nurturing their love of the outdoors or using science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to create sustainable solutions. Their vision for a better tomorrow is realized when you support the largest girl-led entrepreneurship program in the world. For some girls, it means putting their cookie money toward impactful community projects right in their own backyards. For others, it means saving up to fund travel so they can see firsthand the world that they’ll one day transform. 

Whatever their plans are, one thing’s for certain: the proceeds from Girl Scout Cookies stay in your local area to benefit girls and Girl Scout councils. Councils depend on these earnings to run their programming, which prepares Girl Scouts for a lifetime of leadership, success, and adventure in a safe, no-limits place designed for and by girls!

Offering hands-on, girl-centered learning in STEM, the outdoors, and entrepreneurship, as well as abundant opportunities to develop invaluable life skills, Girl Scouts helps all girls take the lead early and often. The Girl Scout Leadership Experience pairs girls with strong, caring female role models and mentors who encourage them to step up and make their voices heard. And we’re backed by more than 100 years of experience.

The sweetest part of all? 

Your purchase and support of a Girl Scout's cookie business means that you, too, are making sure data is not destiny; research shows that female-founded start-ups generate more revenue over time than male-founded start-ups, but unfortunately, only 17 percent are female-founded. Thanks to the Girl Scout Cookie Program, however, we’re changing that—girls as young as five are building business savvy that proves to be crucial to shattering glass ceilings through skills like goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics. It’s no wonder over half of female entrepreneurs are Girl Scout alums.  So, at a time when the world needs more women in the boardroom, support a more equitable future and treat yourself—it’s a win-win!

Because the iconic cookie program is not only developing the next generation of female business leaders but also inciting real change in communities across the globe. 

A cookie has never tasted so sweet.

Are you ready to help girls succeed? Use our Cookie Finder to find Girl Scout Cookies near you!