Sunday, March 11, 2018

Girl Scout Strong: What Being a Girl Scout Means to Me, as Told by Ali S.

Ali on set with fellow Girl Scouts during a Girl Scouts photoshoot with photographer Kate Parker.
The word “strong” can mean many things, but to me it means a willingness to stand up for something you believe in—to take the lead even when, or maybe especially when, it’s not easy to do. In Girl Scouts, girls learn how to be strong through new experiences that they might not have had access to otherwise. Here, every day, girls have many opportunities to make a difference in their communities and in the world, whether it be through volunteering, collecting donations for a cause that they believe in, or fighting for change.

Ali with her sister Katie.
My sister Katie (she’s also a Girl Scout!) and I came up with this quote: “No matter what challenges you may face in life, there is always a place for every girl in Girl Scouts.” I think the quote shows that in Girl Scouts, girls get to bond with other girls and grow in strength as a group and as a community. And no matter what challenges you face, the bonds you make in Girl Scouts will be the strength that will always help you overcome life’s many challenges, both now and in the future.

Of the multiple experiences that Girl Scouts has provided me with, including taking part in the Miss Media program, serving as copy editor for Lime Green Giraffe (a by-girls, for-girls online publication of Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta), and mentoring younger Girl Scout troops, one of my recent favorites was a photo shoot hosted by Girl Scouts of the USA with photographer Kate T. Parker. At the photo shoot, held in my hometown of Atlanta, participating girls had the opportunity to make new friends and see what goes on behind the scenes of a real production. Girls also modeled for the camera and changed into fun outfits that let them explore and see different sides of themselves. We got to be ourselves, be fierce, be strong, and have a ton of fun.

After the girls and I changed into our outfits, we’d head out to prepare for the photos. When we were all set and ready, Kate began taking pictures. And while she took them, she made sure we were always in the correct position, guiding us to get the shots she needed. After each scene we would wait to hear where else we were needed and what cool thing we’d be doing next. Being in this photo shoot really gave us all the chance to do something unique and different—which is something I often get to do as a Girl Scout!

In addition to being a photographer, Kate is also an author who created a book called Strong Is the New Pretty in which girls share difficult experiences in their lives and how they have or are persevering through those situations. My sister Katie, who has a rare blood disorder called idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, discussed her challenges in the book. For the last couple of years, because of her illness, Katie has been unable to do some of the things she loves to do, like gymnastics and soccer. But thanks to Girl Scouts, she has found a way around this by discovering new interests and activities that she can participate in while staying healthy (thank you, Girl Scouts!).

It is also because of Girl Scouts that Katie has had access to memorable experiences like being featured in Kate’s book and in this latest photo shoot, in addition to participating in a vintage Girl Scout uniform media event and a Girl Scout runway modeling event.

Girl Scouts really gives girls the chance to try new things and learn more about themselves and others in the process. The program teaches girls that strong is the new pretty!


Ali, age 14, is a Girl Scout Cadette from Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta. She loves musical theater, singing, playing her saxophone, participating in color guard, writing, and doing community/mission work. She has been a Girl Scout since kindergarten, part of the Miss Media program for four years, and a key player in Lime Green Giraffe for two years.

Ali's favorite thing about being a Girl Scout is all of the new friends she has made throughout the years and the opportunities through which she gets to give back to her community on a regular basis. Recently, along with some of her Girl Scout friends, Ali participated in a day of service by donating books to children and creating kindness rocks to spread throughout their community. Ali and Katie are currently working on their Girl Scout Silver Award together and continue to make great strides as a team.

Learn more about all the amazing things Girl Scouts do.