Local Girl Scouts Earn Gold Award

Local Girl Scouts Earn Gold Award

Nearly 70 local high school students recently earned Girl Scouts of the USA’s most prestigious national honor for girls, the Girl Scout Gold Award. Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) honored their accomplishments during a special ceremony on June 4, 2016 at the Chicago Marriott Oak Brook.

“Girl Scout traditions, such as earning the Gold Award, provide a bond that unites generations of girls and women who stepped out of their comfort zones to defy society’s expectations of what women could accomplish,” said Karen Layng, president of the GSGCNWI board of directors.

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Gold Award recipients recite the Girl Scout Promise during the ceremony.

The Girl Scout Gold Award, which is celebrating its centennial this year, is the highest award that Girl Scouts ages 14-18 may earn. The leadership skills, organizational skills, and sense of community and commitment required to complete the process set the foundation for a lifetime of active citizenship. Girls complete seven steps to earn the Gold Award, including the completion of a significant service project.

“I have no doubt that you are the generation that will continue to shatter stereotypes about what women can achieve,” GSGCNWI CEO Nancy Wright told the students. “Use the skills you have learned through the process of earning the Gold Award to change the world for the better.”

The Gold Award project fulfills a need within a girl’s community (whether local or global), creates change and is sustaining. The Gold Award recognizes the work of Girl Scouts who demonstrate leadership culminating in 80 hours or more, dedicated towards their service project. Girls complete a minimum of 40 hours in a leadership role before embarking on the final project.

Elise Mayfield, a former Chicago resident and finalist on MasterChef Season 5, was the keynote speaker for the ceremony and shared the importance of resiliency.

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Elise Mayfield addresses the Class of 2016 Gold Award recipients.

“I know that you all have experienced setbacks in your journey, both in your personal life and, I’d be willing to bet, in your pursuit of the Gold Award,” said Mayfield, who is also the founder and executive chef of Honey Baby Bakery in Homewood, Alabama. “But you bounced back. You took a hit and you kept on going and I know you’ll continue to do that throughout your life.”

According to the Girl Scout Research Institute’s report, The Power of the Girl Scout Gold Award: Excellence in Leadership and Life, Girl Scout Gold Award recipients receive greater lifetime benefits than their peers with regard to positive sense of self, life satisfaction, leadership, life success, community service and civic engagement as a result of their experience in Girl Scouting, including earning their Gold Award.

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Girl Scout Ambassador Allison Fron holds her Gold Award pin, certificate and program.

Girls have earned Girl Scouts of the USA’s highest awards since 1916, just four years after the organization’s founding in 1912. These awards include the Golden Eagle of Merit, Golden Eaglet, Curved Bar, First Class and the current Girl Scout Gold Award which was introduced in 1980. Over the course of the last century, millions of Girl Scout alumnae have positively impacted their communities and the world with their creative, impactful and sustainable community service, or Take Action, projects.

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Girl Scout Ambassador Sonya Ajani proudly demonstrates her Gold Award project, which consisted of a 72-hour survival kit and workshops for her community.

As awareness of the Girl Scout Gold Award continues to grow, so does its prestige. An increasing number of colleges are offering financial incentives to those who earn Girl Scout Gold Awards and admissions counselors view it as a sign of an individual girl’s ability to lead. This year, GSGCNWI announced a new scholarship for Gold Award recipients that was made possible through generous donations. The deadline is August 1, 2016 and information is available at www.girlscoutsgcnwi.org.

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Photos courtesy of Lynn Renee Photography

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Critters for a Cause: Girl Scouts Create Stuffed Animals for Hospital Patients

Critters for a Cause: Girl Scouts Create Stuffed Animals for Hospital Patients

Spending time at a hospital is no fun. But Girl Scouts from Service Unit 406 in Hoffman Estates, IL are aiming to bring cheer to pediatric patients at the Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village, IL with hundreds of handmade stuffed animals.

“It’s important to give back to the community to help people know we’re much more than just cookies and we do many great things,” said Ameenah Zawahir, a 10-year-old Girl Scout Junior.

Her 9-year-old sister Jasmine, a Girl Scout Brownie, agreed.

“I thought it was fun to work as a team and do something nice for the children at the hospital,” she said.

According to Shane Sexton, a service unit coordinator for Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, the project began a few years ago as a way for her troop to earn its philanthropist badge. To create the critters, the girls cut, stuff and sew tube socks with help from adult volunteers. Afterward, they decorate the faces of the critters and include a “healing wish” for the recipient.

“They’re happy to do it,” Sexton said. “They’re learning through Girl Scouts what it means to give back to the community through project like this. They really are loving it.”

Katelyn Malartsik, a 15-year-old Girl Scout Senior, enjoyed receiving thank-you cards from the family of patients who’d received the critters, such as one little boy who named his stuffed animal Pickles.

“It feels really good to hear that the animals helped them feel better,” she said. “I think it’s good for them to know that people care, and Girl Scouts are aware of what’s going on and want to help.”

Phyllis Harman, staff chaplain at Alexian Brothers Medical Center, is grateful for the sock critters, which often accompany a prayer blanket from the hospital.

“The patients and their families are amazed that someone else is thinking about them,” she said. “To know that little kids made these critters out of their own hands and hearts, the patients feel very blessed. We as chaplains feel very, very blessed.”

By participating in the service project, Sexton said the girls are truly living the Girl Scout law to “make the world a better place.”

“When they see how much it means to be helpful, considerate and kind, that’s what it really means to be a Girl Scout,” she said.

Want to make your own sock critter? Check out the video tutorial below:

Special thanks to Shane Sexton, Chris Stapleton and the members of Troop 43081 for their assistance in making this video!