Thursday, May 16, 2019

From Special Agent badge to Girl Scout Gold Award

Guest post by Gold Award Girl Scout Emily C.

When Emily earned her Girl Scout Cadette Special Agent badge in sixth grade, she knew that one day she would earn her Girl Scout Gold Award by helping the Bainbridge Police Department in renovating the safe room to feel more like a safe space. Emily shared with us why she chose to help the BPD and what her experience was like.

About five years ago, as part of the requirements for earning the Special Agent badge, my troop visited the police station to learn how evidence is processed. The officer gave us a full tour of the station including the safe room—a small, dark room just off the lobby where people could go if they felt threatened. He said sometimes they would have a child wait in the safe room until someone came to pick them up, usually because of a situation at home such as a fire, a car accident, or when one parent was arrested and the other sent to the hospital. I think it hit me harder than most, because I could easily see myself having been one of those kids. All I could think about was how scary and traumatizing it would be to spend even five minutes alone in that room. I knew then that this was the change I wanted to make.

Four years later, I gave the Police Chief my proposal for renovating the safe room to make it emotionally and psychologically safe. I fully expected my proposal to get shot down, but he loved it! After receiving approval from Girl Scouts of Northeast Ohio, I got to work. Thanks to several friends, my family, and a few technical experts, renovations to the room were finished about 100 hours later. The walls had to be patched and repainted a more soothing color. Blinds, furniture, and carpet were cleaned. I also built and painted a 6’ x 4’ whiteboard with wood trim to hang on the wall. I designed, built, and stained a step stool so smaller children could reach the whiteboard, and brought in a bookcase that I filled with age-appropriate books obtained through a donation from the local United Way. I applied two inspirational quotes and a large tree on the walls to decorate the room and make it comforting. Lastly, I created a brochure for parents and guardians outlining how to create a safe space at home. My brochure is now available in the Police Station resource center as well as at the local United Way.

Besides being a lot of work, and having to learn how to drill, screw, and nail into Kevlar-coated walls, the biggest challenge I faced was the time it took for the walls to cure before the white board and decorations could be applied.

The staff at the police station eagerly accepted the responsibility for maintaining the room. I gave them a large supply of whiteboard markers and eraser cloths to ensure that the room would stay well stocked. The chief checks it daily to make sure drawings aren’t left on the whiteboard so long that they leave a permanent shadow on the board.

Gold Award Girl Scouts make lasting changes when they work on an issue they’re passionate about. Whether they’re tackling ocean pollution, human trafficking, education access, or the emotional and psychological well-being of children waiting to be picked up from their local police department, Gold Award Girl Scouts are inspiring leaders. Learn more about the Girl Scout Gold Award.