Local Girl Scouts Launch Successful Music Career

Local Girl Scouts Launch Successful Music Career

Talk about turning lemons into lemonade.

After being bullied at school two years ago, then 13-year-old twins Carly and Martina launched a music career with the goal of empowering and inspiring young women like them.

“I came home one day after being bullied and decided I could continue to feel this way and be upset, or I could do something to make myself feel better,” said Carly. “We loved writing songs and decided to write ‘Make Me Happy’ because you’re ultimately the gatekeeper of what makes you happy.”

The song, which landed the Chicagoland singer-songwriters a record deal, was also the basis of break-out sessions about anti-bullying and self-esteem Carly and Martina, who are now 15, hosted at a middle school in late 2015.

In addition to music, the sisters’ Girl Scout troop served as a safe space for them to be themselves.

“It was a place where we knew we didn’t have to worry,” said Martina. “We knew our friends would be there and we wouldn’t be judged. Girl Scouts was a nice mental break.”

Their mom, Rose Marie Spiro, agreed.

“Girl Scouts provides a place where girls don’t have to worry about all the other stuff that’s going on in the world,” she said. “For their Silver Award project, they created exercise videos for senior citizens. It’s all about giving back to the community and a place where they could learn to be together, where they can be supportive and do things not only for themselves, but for others as well.”

Carly and Martina, who have been taking piano lessons since they were 4, are also passionate about using social media platforms to engage with their fans and followers in a positive way.

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“We’re very active on social media because we want to show that we’re real people, not just music artists,” said Carly. “We reply to every single comment on every single photo. For example, we’re talking to this one girl on Snapchat who gets bullied because she doesn’t wear makeup. We want to create a space to uplift others.”

Earlier this year, Carly and Martina spoke at the TEDxIIT2017 event in Chicago about how their debut single, “Make Me Happy,” inspired them to launch a music career built on positivity.

As for aspiring artists, Carly and Martina’s advice is to start now doing what you love.

“Find whatever industry makes you happy and pursue that nonstop,” they said. “And take lessons, don’t ever stop learning. On days when you ask yourself ‘why am I doing this?’ just keep at it. Don’t quit.”

And most importantly, believe in yourself.

“You have to love yourself enough not to let others control your happiness,” they said. “Living your dream is really important.”

Catch Carly and Martina live in concert May 31 at the John and Nancy Hughes Theater in the Gordon Community Center in Lake Forest, IL. To learn more about Carly and Martina, visit their website.

Join Girl Scouts at the Mighty Girls Expo

Join Girl Scouts at the Mighty Girls Expo

Looking for some summertime fun for the whole family? Don’t miss out on Mighty Girls, a healthy living expo at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois, on June 24!

The family-friend event features healthy and delicious treats; a meet-and-greet with some of your favorite hometown teams; giveaways from health living organizations and a huge game of Quidditch! Plus, you’ll also get to make your own custom pasta snack at Barilla’s famous Lucky Penne mobile kitchen with professional chefs.

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Mighty Girls is $10 for kids and $5 for adults. Registered Girl Scouts will also receive a Mighty Girls fun patch and apparel item. Discount tickets to Chicago Fire’s evening match also available.

Register now at girlscoutsgcnwi.org/mightygirls

Girl Scouts and Randstad Partner to Empower Leaders of Tomorrow

Girl Scouts and Randstad Partner to Empower Leaders of Tomorrow

Want to learn tips and tricks to landing a summer internship or how to obtain your dream job? Join the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) for “She Succeeds: Empowering the Leaders of Tomorrow,” a special event hosted by one of the largest staffing firms in the U.S., Randstad.

The event, which takes place on Saturday, June 10, 2017 at our Vernon Hills Gathering Place, is designed to teach young women how to prepare for a career of their dreams and will feature opening remarks by Traci Fiatte, CEO, Professional and Commercial Staffing, at Randstad US and GSGCNWI board member, and a keynote address by Kelley O. Williams, CEO and co-founder of Paige & Paxton Elementary STEM Curriculum.

Williams has led nationally recognized STEM pipeline initiatives designed to introduce girls to the field of technology. She also achieved notable recognition for her contributions and success including awards such as “Crain’s Chicago Business 20 in their 20s” and the Porsche “Power 30 under 30”.

To further discuss the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), we chatted with Fiatte and Williams to learn more about their careers and how girls can start planning for success today.

How are you making STEM more accessible for girls and children of color?

Kelley O. Williams: In addition to actively recruiting families with girls and diverse children for our programming and online community, one of the ways that we attract and make STEM education more accessible and inclusive to girls is through storytelling.

Storytelling was the medium that my mom leveraged to make science and math real and relevant to my sister and me. It is still the hallmark of our methodology. Paige & Paxton content, curricula and events are all based on the characters and storylines from the Paige & Paxton book series. The puzzle piece characters are doing the same things as children, having the same experiences, asking the same questions and finding the answers in STEM, which they discover is an integral part of the world in which they live. Storytelling is a powerful way to introduce STEM concepts and careers through a gender inclusive childhood lens while cultivating early STEM interest and awareness that will follow girls throughout their educational career.

Why do you think it’s important for every child, especially girls, to learn about STEM?

Traci Fiatte: The older we get, the less opportunity there is to try new things. And by high school, many kids feel established and may be intimidated to jump into something different. Imagine high school soccer tryouts. Most of the kids vying for a spot on the team have been playing since they were young. Someone just learning how to play will likely feel overwhelmed and may not bother trying out. The same can be true for extracurricular clubs, activities and curriculum. Having early exposure creates confidence, and that confidence can translate into career paths, hobbies and higher engagement in class.

STEM subjects, in particular, are important to introduce early. The most difficult occupations to fill today are in STEM fields because there is a shortage of qualified people to fill the open jobs. As every industry becomes increasingly reliant on technology, STEM specialists will be in even higher demand in the future. Today, STEM fields are traditionally male dominated. That’s changing, but we still have a long way to go. The earlier young women recognize their affinity to STEM subjects, and the fewer obstacles they encounter, the better the environment will be for them when they enter college and beyond.

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What are some of the challenges women face in STEM careers and how can we prepare girls for success?

Kelley O. Williams: One of the biggest challenges that women face in getting interested and remaining in STEM careers is unconscious bias. It begins in early childhood when parents and teachers assume that girls are “naturally” better at reading and boys “naturally” better at math. It occurs when we compliment young girls for being pretty and young boys for being smart. It occurs in the toy aisle when toys that are “designed” for boys tend to encourage more spatial intelligence development, while toys for girls encourage developing social intelligence.

The best that we can do for our girls to prepare them for success is to check our biases. We need to encourage girls to take active roles in STEM education experiences, even when they may be hesitant to try. We need to be mindful of how and what we praise girls for and how we provide them with feedback. Most importantly, we need our girls to see diverse examples of mathematicians, scientists, and engineers so that they know that being a girl in STEM is not an exception to the rule.

To learn more, or to register for the event, please visit girlscoutsgcnwi.org.

Explore London with Girl Scouts

Explore London with Girl Scouts

Calling all Cadettes! Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana will be inviting 12 girls and 2 adults to join us next summer on a London adventure.

During this introduction to international travel, girls will plan where we go, how to get around, and where to eat. Is it Big Ben, Stonehenge, a Harry Potter tour, or the London Eye? Whether you’re a history buff, a Hogwarts fan, or just can’t wait to travel the world, this trip is for you!

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Before the 2018 trip, you will meet on a monthly basis to practice the basics of planning a trip. You’ll have a budget to stick within, travel guides, and the trusty Internet to plan the adventure.

This adventure is open to Cadettes who are in grades 6-8 during the 2017-2018 school year and you must be 12 years old before the start of the trip. The trip will take place July 30-August 3, 2018, and cost is approximately $2,000 (inclusive of airfare, most meals, accommodations, sightseeing and transportation). Financial aid is available.

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The application is now live for girls only. But don’t hesitate, the deadline to apply is June 1, 2017!

For more information, and to apply, click here.

Lifelong Girl Scout Leaves Lasting Legacy 

Lifelong Girl Scout Leaves Lasting Legacy 

Those who knew her, loved her. Those who didn’t, wish they had.

When Brandy Gallagher, a lifetime Girl Scout and Glendale Heights resident, passed away unexpectedly earlier this year, she left a void in the lives and hearts she touched.

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Brandy (center) as a Girl Scout Brownie

 

A community relations advisor at A Place for Mom, Brandy dedicated her life to caring for others.

“I think that she genuinely wanted to make people happy, bring people joy and laughter,” said Brandy’s college roommate, Aviva Nathan. “She got a lot of happiness out of making other people happy. She has a wonderful legacy teaching people how to express their love for others, and making the world a brighter place filled with laughter and joy.”

Indeed, the world is a much better place because Brandy was in it and it’s her parents’ desire to ensure her legacy lives forever.

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Brandy sits by the fire at summer camp

“Years ago, we had a discussion about what we’d do if we ever won the lottery and she said she would give to Girl Scouts,” Brandy’s mother, Molly Gallagher, explained. “She was always concerned about others.”

In lieu of flowers, Brandy’s family asked loved ones to donate to Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana. To date, more than $3,000 has been donated to help send girls to summer camp.

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Brandy baking cookies

“Brandy loved her days as a Girl Scout and as an aide and assistant director at Von Oven [Scout Reservation] and Camp Greene Wood,” Molly, a lifetime Girl Scout member with more than 25 years of volunteer service, said. “As a high school graduation present, I gave her a lifetime membership. It obviously has paid off big time.”

Outside of Girl Scouts, Brandy also enjoyed running, reading, crafting and theatre. And she showed off her creative side by making fun crafts for work and baking cookies for colleagues.

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Brandy (bottom right) and friends at a national Girl Scout convention

“I think that Brandy sought out opportunities to give and serve. She wanted others to be themselves, do what they love, and feel confident in doing so,” said Michelle Bezy Sands, a high school and college classmate. “When we recollected about Girl Scouts, we talked about how fun it was to try new things that as girls we weren’t always introduced to. It was also a safe place to be just ourselves. I like to think Brandy wanted that to be her legacy – to inspire others to be themselves, take risks, give of themselves and to do so unapologetically.”

To learn more about Girl Scouts and get involved, visit girlscoutsgcnwi.org