Friday, August 19, 2016

Hear It from a Girl Scout: Bringing Gold to Walt Disney World

Guest blog by Ashley Chico, Girl Scout from Girl Scouts of Citrus and the recipient of the inaugural Elena of Avalor Scepter of Light Award.
Ashley Chico, centered Girl Scout, with her family.

Some moments in life are fun or exciting, but when I got to go up on stage at Walt Disney World to receive the first ever Elena of Avalor Scepter of Light Award—a new award given by Girl Scouts and Disney Channel to chosen Gold Award honorees—I knew it was something special that I’d remember forever. I’ve been lucky enough to visit the park and see Cinderella’s Castle before, but to stand in front of everyone at the park and represent Girl Scouts was truly once in a lifetime.

A couple magical things happened before I came on stage to get my award. First of all, I got to see Cinderella and Prince Charming! That was really cool. But what was even better was hearing two incredible women—Maryann Barry, the CEO of Girl Scouts of Citrus, and Nancy Kanter, the Executive Vice President of Original Programming and General Manager of Disney Junior Worldwide—telling everyone about Project CODE, which I created for my Gold Award. Basically, I’d wanted to do something to impact my community in a unique way that would have an effect on kids even younger than me. Then I started talking to my mentors about how technology is changing even faster than an app downloads, and I realized I wanted to help make sure kids had access to classes and workshops where they could learn to code and get a real digital education. It took a lot of work and I heard the word “no” more times than I can count along the way, but now Project CODE is up and running and helping kids learn that they can create their own future with code.

CEO of Girl Scouts of Citrus, Maryann Barry (left), and Executive Vice President of Original Programming and General Manager of Disney Junior Worldwide, Nancy Kanter (right), award Girl Scout Ashley Chico of Orlando, Fla. with the inaugural Scepter of Light award representing The Gold Award.
Ashley Chico, centered, with her sisters.
As proud as I am of my Gold Award project, I’ve also seen and read about so many other Gold Award recipients and their projects and they’re all so impressive! I mean, there are girls who’ve built entire structures for their communities and done really awesome work that has made such a difference. That’s why I was surprised to be chosen for this honor, and why when I think about it, I realize that this award—and being up on stage at Walt Disney World—wasn’t just about me. I was up there representing all the Girl Scouts who don’t always get recognized for the hard work they do to make the world a better place.

Ninety other Girl Scouts of all ages were there with me, and each one of us got flowers to put in our hair and a special Scepters of Light to celebrate the event. Later in the ceremony, when Elena of Avalor arrived on stage and held up her own scepter, all of us Girl Scouts did the same. Being part of that moment with so many other Girl Scouts and Elena herself—raising our scepters in unison—it really showed that this isn’t just about me—one girl out of millions out there who want to change things—this is about all of us joining together to achieve bigger and better things for our world.

Girl Scouts of Citrus welcoming Princess Elena of Avalor to her Royal Debut.