After noticing the gardens at a local residential facility were in need of some TLC this summer, Claireabelle Boudart, Emily and Lauren Balla of Arlington Heights, Illinois decided to take matters into their own hands, literally. The 13-year-old Girl Scout Cadettes helped spruce up the gardens at the Clearbrook Center in Rolling Meadows, Illinois as their Girl Scout Silver Award project.

“My uncle lived at Clearbrook for a lot of his life because he had Down syndrome,” Claireabelle said. “I went to visit him and saw the gardens needed a bit of work because everything was dead. So two of my other friends decided to make it our Silver Award project.”

The Silver Award is the highest award a middle school-aged Girl Scout can earn and it gives girls the chance to show that they are leaders who are organized, determined and dedicated to improving their community.

“When we visited the gardens, we saw it wasn’t very pretty,” Lauren said. “So we decided to do this as our Silver Award project because we figured it would put the residents in a better mood if they saw a nice garden and had somewhere to sit in the shade when it’s sunny.”

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With help from the Arlington Heights Garden Club and their mothers, Kathryn Boudart and Kristin Balla, the girls developed a plan to revitalize the gardens at Clearbrook, the largest provider of home-based services for people with disabilities in the state of Illinois.

“The garden clubs helped us dig up the old plants and figure out where to plant the new ones,” Emily said. “They were a really big help. I’m not sure how well we would have been able to complete the project without them.”

Unfortunately, Claireabelle’s uncle, Bill Ignacek, who was a longtime resident at Clearbrook, passed away before the garden renovation was complete.

“My uncle touched a part of my life and I felt like I had to give back,” Claireabelle explained. “He taught me how to behave around other people and how to respect everyone equally, so I wanted to pay it forward. If he was still around, I think he would be very happy with it.”

All of the girls are proud of their work and plan to pursue their Gold Award, the highest award a Girl Scout can earn.

“We were really surprised and happy and proud of ourselves that we were able to accomplish something like that,” Lauren said. “We learned that when you work hard as a group, you can accomplish a lot.”

Claireabelle agreed.

“I learned a lot from Girl Scouts, like how to give back, how to work with the community and how to work with other people,” Claireabelle said. “I think that giving back to your community is a very important part of your life because it does so much for you if you think about it.”

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