In a Stressful World, This Girl Scout Brings Calm

In a Stressful World, This Girl Scout Brings Calm

Of course it’s always important to remember to take a step back and really think about your actions before acting on them and your words before you say them. Kaitlyn Kropp knows what it’s like to need a minute to cool down. “I have mood swings and so sometimes I’d feel overwhelmed and just kind of lose it,” she says. “It was hard on me, and I know it was hard for other people, too. I wasn’t trying to hurt anyone, though, and I wanted to not have those problems. I didn’t like that my feelings of sadness or fear could take over like that.”

So, like a true leader, this 17-year-old Girl Scout Ambassador set out to problem solve and help herself and other kids facing similar problems. And it turns out many teens are living with these types of issues. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, three out of every fifty teens aged 13-18 are grappling with severe anxiety disorder.

“We used to have something called a ‘processing room’ at school, where kids could go and talk through their feelings with a teacher or a counselor, or write them down. But that’s not what everyone needs—in fact, if you’re freaking out, having to talk or to write something that makes sense can add even more pressure. That was the case with me, and I knew a few other kids who felt the same,” Kaitlyn says. “All I really wanted was an enclosed space where I could be by myself and chill for a few minutes so I could calm down and get back to my school work without having a bad incident.”

To read more of Kaitlyn’s story, visit GirlScouts.org. To stand with us as champions for girls, donate today.

Chicago Girl Scout Teaches Friends Life Lessons

Chicago Girl Scout Teaches Friends Life Lessons

Ally Krajewski is a rock star.

At her Chicago elementary school, students beg to be her buddy and her Girl Scout troop meetings are no different.

“Can I sit next to Ally at dinner?” one of her Sister Girl Scouts asks Ally’s mom during a recent field trip. Another one rushes to be her partner during a group activity.

To say the 10-year-old Girl Scout Junior is popular is an understatement, but her family and friends consider her more so a blessing.

Ally was born with Type 1 Spinal Muscular Atrophy, or SMA. The disease is the leading genetic cause of death for infants and is caused by a mutation in the survival motor neuron, according to curesma.org.

SMA impairs the nerves that control voluntary muscle movement, such as crawling, walking, head and neck control, and swallowing. As a result, Ally drives a power wheelchair and communicates with her eyes.

“Her life expectancy was less than two years and I want to give her as many experiences as possible. She teaches us all life lessons,” Ally’s mother, Tina Krajewski, explained. “The troop does so much for her emotionally.”

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And the feeling is mutual as Ally is a valuable member of Troop 20149, according to her leader, Tracy Baldwin.

“She helps the girls learn how to accept all girls and shares her story when we go to larger group events, like World Thinking Day,” said Tracy Baldwin. “She helps us all to be more accepting of other people and be more empathetic.”

This summer, Ally went overnight camping for the first time and she was able to help educate other Girl Scout troops about her condition.

“It was the first time she had attended a sleepover,” Krajewski said. “It was phenomenal. It was the best ‘normal’ childhood experience she’s ever had.”

As a former Girl Scout, Krajewski wanted her daughter to have a traditional troop experience as well.

“Every time we go to a Girl Scout meeting, her eyes light up,” Krajewski said. “She enjoys being with her friends.”

And they enjoy being with her as well. Maya Wagner-Tyree, an 11-year-old Girl Scout Junior, said Ally is one of the reasons she enjoys Girl Scouts so much.

“I like coloring with her and hanging out with her,” she said. “We learn to work together and help each other if someone doesn’t know how to do something and we help Ally, too.”

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Bella Alvarez, who’s also a 10-year-old Girl Scout Junior, agreed.

“We interact with each other because sometimes people don’t interact with each other because they’re different,” she explained. “You should be kind to everyone.”

It’s a motto that the girls have wholeheartedly embraced since they welcomed Ally into their troop about two years ago after she transferred schools.

“She’s resilient and she’s made us better people,” said Baldwin. “Girl Scouts is for every girl. We’re all learning so much from her. She’s definitely made our Girl Scout experience richer.”

To learn more about Ally, visit her blog.

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WATCH: Girl Scouts Celebrate Leadership in New PSA

WATCH: Girl Scouts Celebrate Leadership in New PSA

Every day, millions of girls are showing the world what they’re capable of — whether it’s building LEGO robots, saving the environment or exploring new destinations. They’re G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)™.

Through exciting G.I.R.L.-led experiences, Girl Scouts prepares girls to empower themselves for the big and small moments when they overcome failure, face their fears, try new things, and make their dreams a reality.

Are you ready to take the lead like a Girl Scout? No matter your age, gender, or background, Girl Scouts has opportunities for you to take the lead and make amazing things happen in your community and around the world.

Check out our latest public service announcement, featuring our brand-new “Watch Me Shine” Girl Scout anthem and learn more about what it means to be a G.I.R.L.!

 

River Forest Girl Scout Troop Takes Part in Gift-Wrapping Service Project

River Forest Girl Scout Troop Takes Part in Gift-Wrapping Service Project

For the second year in a row, a local Girl Scout troop helped wrap gift bags for clients at a women’s rehab center on Chicago’s Near West side.

On Dec. 1 at the Chicago offices of international law firm McDermott, Will & Emery, River Forest Girl Scout Troop 40066 assisted in the organizing and wrapping of gift bags for women at The Women’s Treatment Center. The agency is a center for detox and rehabilitation that serves women and their young children.

Troop member Sadie Beck, whose twin sister, Ellie, also is in the troop, said taking part in that type of work serves as a good reminder to the group, especially during the holidays, that the same opportunities aren’t afforded to everyone.

“We really enjoy doing service in general because it makes us feel like we’re helping others,” Beck said. “We like to try to spread some of the resources we have.”

Mary Kay Martire, a partner with McDermott, Will & Emery and one of the troop’s leaders, said most of the girls — now high school freshmen — have been members of the troop since kindergarten, so it’s a close-knit group.

The troop often engages in acts of service like collecting hats and mittens or helping at the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry, Martire said.

“We try to have a service-minded troop,” Martire said. “There is a lot of need in our community.”

To read the full story, visit ChicagoTribune.com.

Chicago Girl Scout Gives Back to Baton Rouge

Chicago Girl Scout Gives Back to Baton Rouge

When Mairead Skelton, a 17-year-old Girl Scout from Chicago, learned about the devastating flood in Baton Rouge, Louisiana earlier this year, she knew she had to do something about it.

“My daughter did something similar years ago when [Hurricane] Katrina hit and Mairead was one of the girls who helped her,” said Bernadette Colletti, Mairead’s Girl Scout troop leader. “On the second day of the flood [in Baton Rouge], Mairead asked if she could do something for the kids down there. So I contacted the diocese to see if there was a need and obtained a list of schools.”

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With the help of her troop leader, Sister Girl Scouts, friends, family, classmates and local politicans, Mairead collected more than 6,000 school supply items for students and teachers in Baton Rouge.

“We sent messages to the surrounding communities and churches asking for donations and my parish allowed me to put donation boxes in the back of the church,” Mariead said. “I asked my principal if this was something we could do and we organized a school supply drive. I also reached out to elected officials who represented my neighborhood and they made monetary donations.”

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In addition to the school supplies, Mairead and her Sister Girl Scouts made prayer cards for the schools in the Diocese of Baton Rouge and decorated the bags with either an outline of the state of Louisiana or the state’s symbol, the fleur de lis. In October, Colleti and Mairead drove to Baton Rouge to personally deliver the items during a Mass at St. John the Evangelist Church in Praireville, Louisiana.

“I can’t describe the feeling because it was so amazing and life-changing to meet some of the families affected by the flood,” said Mairead. “My troop leader and the whole congregation stood up and started clapping for me during the Mass. I started crying, I was so overwhelmed.”

After the Mass, about 30 people came up to Mairead to express their gratitude and the principal of St. John’s Primary School, Kim Naquien, presented her with a big poster board signed by the entire third-grade class as a thank-you gift.

“She may have been inspired by us, but truly she is an inspiration to us to serve one another,” Naquin told the congregation, according to The Catholic Commentator.

And Mairead was truly touched by the gesture.

“It was such an inspiration to me,” Mairead said. “My favorite was a little kid who gave me a thumbs-up as he was walking out.”

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And Mairead’s desire to give back didn’t stop there. With encouragement from her troop leader, Mairead decided to turn the school supply drive into her Gold Award project and host emergency preparedness sessions at the Chicago Park District.

“That way, if something like the flood were to happen, people would be prepared,” explained Mairead.

The Gold Award is the highest award that a Girl Scout ages 14-18 may earn and recognizes the work of Girl Scouts who demonstrate leadership culminating in 80 hours or more, dedicated toward their service project.

“I’ve made so many friends over the last 10 years I’ve been a Girl Scouts,” Mairead said, “and there are so many skills I’ve learned — from being a people person when selling Girl Scout Cookies to not being afraid to speak up when people are talking about an issue or doing a project like this to help others in my community and all over.”

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Give the Gift of Girl Scouts on Giving Tuesday

Give the Gift of Girl Scouts on Giving Tuesday

The time is now. The task is large. The return is worth it. Join the movement today and empower the next generation of women leaders.

A Girl Scout knows how to take action and make the world a better place. She demonstrates everyday leadership every day of the year and #GivingTuesday (Nov. 29) is your opportunity to take action like a Girl Scout on a global day of giving fueled by collaboration. Together we use our power to show the value of every girl.

Invest in girls on #GivingTuesday and spark a movement. We know the work of one girl can rally other girls to join forces. We know that girls, aided by women, boys and men, form an army of believers to break barriers.

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Women leaders in every field, including business, finance, sports, STE[A]M, and community service, are often Girl Scout alumnae. Your donation tells girls that when they succeed, we all succeed. Be a champion for girls and give the gift of Girl Scouting today.

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Double Your Impact!

Make your #GivingTuesday gift by 1 p.m. on Nov. 29 and it will be MATCHED dollar for dollar up to $1,000! Matching gift made possible by a generous longtime volunteer.

Local Girl Scouts Earn Silver Award

Local Girl Scouts Earn Silver Award

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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