Monday, January 14, 2013

Girl Scouts of the USA Unveils 2013 National Young Women of Distinction

Girl Scouts of the USA, the premier leadership organization dedicated to building girls of courage, confidence and character, has unveiled its 2013 National Young Women of Distinction.  These 10 young ladies have earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest award in Girl Scouting. Requirements for the award culminate, by completing a "take action" project that has made a measurable and sustainable difference in their communities.

Gold Award recipients have already changed the world – as high school students. The Gold Award honors leadership in the Girl Scout tradition: two-thirds of America's most accomplished women in public service are former Girl Scouts. The 2013 Girl Scout Gold Award recipients implemented diverse projects, ranging from building libraries for children of migrant workers, hosting large scale events for travel to  Tanzania  to build water retention systems, increasing knowledge and level of interest of high school young women towards STEM Careers, to name a few.

The 2013 National Young Women of Distinction were selected by an external selection committee with representatives from leading nonprofit organizations, Girl Scout partners and funders.  GSUSA thanks the following for their participation. 

Justine Magazine
Kappa Delta
Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.    
Teach for America
The Duke of Edinburgh Award
Young Women’s’ Leadership Network
Youth Service America   

Sricharana from Girl Scouts of Northern California

Learning about the lack of clean and accessible water in Africa, Sricharana (Sri) created an African culture awareness show, called “Taste of Africa” to educate her community on African culture.  Over 500 people attended Sri’s event and its proceeds were used so she could travel to Tanzania to construct a water retention system and a goat pen for a cooperative of ten women and their families.  Villagers no longer need to travel miles for accesses to clean water. 

Nicole from Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey

Nationally, one in three women experiences relationship abuse, an issue Nicole wanted to address, particularly as it relates to middle and high school students. First, she ran a program in her local middle school educating them on dating abuse and violence in the media. Nicole was so impassioned that she then championed legislation that requires safe dating education be provided to middle and high school students as part of their health curriculum. After the law passed, she created a school club called MASK Theater, which takes the spirit of the new law and joins that with an innovative creative program for students in her HS.  Among other performances and events, MASK has created PSAs, an informational DVD for other schools and has even run a Girl Scout Workshop on healthy relationships and the media.

Katherine  from Girl Scouts of Citrus

Recognizing the importance of reading to long term success, Katherine (Kathy) created a library at the Apopka Family Learning Center.  The goal is to help children of migrant workers, a population with the lowest high school graduation rate living well below the federal poverty line. Kathy, a survivor of human trafficking in the United States understands the hardships of learning English as a second language.  Lacking parental support she relied heavily on books to learn English and understands books as a way for families to share learning.  Additionally, she created a website to talk about her project and to raise the funds needed to build out the library space.  The Library is maintained by the Center, and Kathy is proud to report that 70% of students at the Center have improved or maintained passing reading grades within the first year of the Library opening.

Zoë from Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta

Increasing the knowledge and level of interest of high school young women towards STEM Careers is Zoe’s passion.  Zoe created The W.I.S.H. Careers Network for High School Girls.  The project is three fold with career seminars, the W.I.S.H. careers website, and the W.I.S.H. science clubs.  The Network’s impact will be sustained through the W.I.S.H Science clubs, website and seminars and continued partnerships with key organizations like the NSTA.  W.I.S.H. in a Box guides educators and girls through hosting their own event. 

Addison from Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Badgerland

After witnessing the aftermath of her cousins suicide and grappling with her own depression/anxiety feelings, Addison decided to change the stigma around mental illness. To do so, she started a club at her school designed to be an alliance for those suffering with mental illness.  The club hosted “Break the Silence”, an event that featured speakers who presented different viewpoints of depression/suicide and community organizations who offered information on mental illness.  She will continue to lead and strengthen the club during her senior year so it’s mission will continue after graduation.

Miranda from Girl Scouts of Heart of Michigan

Miranda wanted to encourage and connect teens with service opportunities.  For her project, Miranda developed and implemented a comprehensive volunteer service program using social media and a Ning website to match service-based organizations with the 2,000 high school students who reside in the Northville school district.   Twelve communities/schools have requested a CIA (Community Impact Awards) implementation.  CIA has applied for a non-profit status.  Over 350 Northville high school students are already working on one or more awards, which translate to over 10,000 hours of community service.  Averages of 6.4 new members join each week.

Jamila from Girl Scouts of West Central Florida

In seventh grade, Jamila was introduced to Invisible Children Organization and wanted to raise awareness about the youth of war torn Northern Uganda and bring to light the heinous crimes of Dictator Joseph Kony and the need for education and rebuilding of Uganda.   Working in partnership with the Invisible Children, Jamila started the Global Outreach Club that brought to light the Invisible Children to local school peers.  She held Roots for Peace Festival.  Proceeds went to purchase education supplies for sister schools.  Jamila showed documentary films to peers and worked to feature a student guest speaker from Uganda. Finally, Jamila advocated with local legislators about the importance of the Invisible Children Organization and their work.  She established a committee and worked with her Inter Club Council to ensure that participation will continue.

Mandy from Girl Scouts of Central Texas
Passionate about the health of the ocean and how youth education impacts global problems, Mandy designed an aquarium and a three-day curriculum that would expose 5th grade students to ocean health and environmental threats to the ecosystem.  Carefully designed, the aquarium and curriculum serve together, providing basic information on an assortment of aquatic topics and linking the classroom to bodies of water all over the world.  Mandy is currently expanding the curriculum based on teacher request and continues to host lectures at the school.  She hopes to soon expand the program to include other schools and communities.

Brianna from Girl Scouts of Spirit of Nebraska

Growing up, Brianna loved to put on plays and puppet shows for her little sister. She donated a children’s puppet theater to the non-profit organization, Completely Kids. With help from her friends and family, Brianna designed and created the puppet theater and sponsored thirty puppets. She also wrote ten different scripts emphasizing “heart” lessons and led a donation drive to collect costumes so the children could dress up and role-play as their favorite “Community Hero” such as firemen, policemen, and doctors and be part of the plays. The puppet theater will help the children at Completely Kids learn to share, be kind to one another, gain confidence and many more valuable skills. Completely Kids has allocated funds to replenish the puppets so children may enjoy the theater for years to come.

Katie from Girl Scouts of Great Iowa

Bats in Katie’s community were considered a nuisance.  Through research, Katie found that bats play a huge part in the ecosystem so Katie built bat houses that can hold roughly 6,000 bats.  Katie also speaks to young students about the benefits bats provide for us.  The bat houses are now under the care of the Warren Country Conservation Board.

“We celebrate these 10 inspiring young ladies for implementing community action projects that will serve those in need for years to come. These young ladies truly exemplify the Girl Scout motto of building girls of courage, confidence and character who make this world a better place," said Anna Maria Chávez, chief executive officer, Girl Scouts of the USA.

The 2013 National Young Women of Distinction program is made possible through support from the Kappa Delta sorority.

2013 National Young Women of Distinction Honorable Mentions

Thanks in part to the Kappa Delta Sorority Girl Scouts of the USA have selected five Young Women of Distinction Honorable Mentions.  These Girl Scouts have demonstrated exceptional leadership through their Gold Award projects and were among the finalists for the Young Women of Distinction title. 

Hannah from Girl Scouts  Heart of Michigan 
Amelia from Girl Scouts Heart of Central California
Sierra from Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York 
Eleanor from Girl Scouts of Central Texas
Jamie from Girl Scouts Heart of Hudson