Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Meet the Mobilized Generation: Taking Action

Guest post by Sylvia Acevedo, GSUSA CEO
 Girl Scouts visited the Georgia state capitol in force in February to make their voices heard. Girls spoke with legislators and signed a wall in support of naming a bridge in Savannah after Girl Scouts founder Juliette Gordon Low. 

As students across Florida and throughout America organize to take action to change our world, I’ve been hearing that some people are surprised by the poise and passion these kids and teens display as they advocate for the changes they want to see. Some have been astounded that these young people could be so determined and mobilized.

They must not know many kids of this generation. As the CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA, one of the largest youth leadership organizations in the world, I have a front row seat to what is going on with today’s young people across the country. Yes, they are glued to their screens, but they're not simply using those mobile phones to play Candy Crush—far from it. They're using technology to learn, to communicate, and yes, to mobilize.

Girl Scouts of the USA CEO, Sylvia Acevedo
Today’s youth may not be able to vote, but that doesn’t stop them from thinking critically about the world around them, how to improve it and then doing something about it.

Last summer, Girl Scout Juniors in Oregon got a law changed, allowing legal rescue of children and pets from hot, locked cars. This year, a group of Girl Scout Cadettes got a law on the books in Colorado that helps protect minors from second-hand smoke. These are 10 and 13 year old girls proposing laws and getting them passed.

And there are so many more examples of Girl Scouts, who have taken action to change the laws or simply become involved in their communities to, as we say in Girl Scouts, “leave the campground better than you found it.”

Beyond anecdotes, the stats prove just how committed our young people are to taking action. A study conducted last year by the Girl Scout Research Institute showed that more than one in three American girls took part in civic engagement activities. That number goes up to 8 in 10 when those kids are Girl Scouts; which is why Girl Scouts remains one of the best and most effective organizations in the world to help girls unlock their potential. In the safe, all-girl, girl-led environment that Girl Scouts provide, girls are provided with the tools and the experience to take the lead, and demonstrate their capacity to change the world on issues they feel strongly about. Girl Scouts encourages, champions, and expects girls to take the lead – and those expectations are translated into action every day in our world.

Of course, it will take more than just girls…

Many kids in this generation think of themselves as being “woke” or aware of the challenges our society faces. However, these young people aren’t simply aware, they’re also tenacious, determined, strategic, and smart, and they’re ready to put in the work to fight for causes that impact their communities. Since they are taking action, they’re lighting a fire under each and every one of us to think harder, to reach higher, to do better. Instead of dismissing or discounting the efforts of the rising generation of youth, we are investing in them and encouraging them as they show a way forward.

That's what my colleagues and I—and the amazing Girl Scout volunteers across the country—do every single day, building girls of courage, confidence and courage who are making the world a better place. They know that they can change the world. In fact, they’re already doing it.

Through online civic engagement resources tailored for girls ages 5–17, it’s easier than ever to advance the G.I.R.L. Agenda and inspire the next generation of female leaders to become catalysts for change.

Do your part to support and prepare girls to be empowered, motivated citizens. Whether they choose to advocate for positive change in their communities, stand up against everyday injustices, prompt others to donate or volunteer for causes, or meet with public officials and community leaders to educate them about important issues, girls have plenty of options to get started.

The G.I.R.L. Agenda Powered by Girl Scouts is a nonpartisan initiative to inspire, prepare, and mobilize girls and those who care about them to lead positive change through civic action.