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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Downers Grove Teen Earns Girl Scout Silver Award

Downers Grove Teen Earns Girl Scout Silver Award

When Sophie Marro’s grandmother suffered a stroke a while back, the 13-year-old Girl Scout Cadette knew she wanted to do something that could help patients in rehab. After witnessing cancer patients struggle with seatbelts due to the portacath used for their chemotherapy, Sophie started making port pillows as part of her Girl Scout Silver Award project.

One weekend, 12 people and more than 250 port pillows later, Sophie, who lives in Downers Grove, was able to donate the items to Elmhurst Hospital Cancer Center, the hospital that treated her grandmother.

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“The patients were really happy to see them,” Sophie said. “They were glad to see someone was thinking of them. It felt really good and I was happy that I could give back to the community that helped my grandmother.”

As a result of her project, Sophie earned her Silver Award, which is the highest award a Girl Scout Cadette can earn.

“I feel like I really honed in on three skills: leadership, organization and staying positive,” she said. “Leadership because I learned about accomplishing goal. Organization because there was a lot of material and people to organize to make sure everything ran smoothly.”

At one point while Sophie and her friends were making the pillows, all of the sewing machines broke because they were overworked.

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“We got a little frustrated, but it was important to keep an upbeat attitude,” she said.

Sophie, who’s been a Girl Scout since first grade, has plans to earn her Gold Award as well, which is the highest award in Girl Scouting.

“I participate in a lot of sports, but they don’t really teach citizenship or giving back to the community,” she said. “I’m really happy that Girl Scouts allows me to do that.”

Highland Park Girl Scout Earns Silver Award for Food Allergy Awareness

Highland Park Girl Scout Earns Silver Award for Food Allergy Awareness

For many children and teens, food allergies are a matter of life or death. But Susan Tatelli, a 13-year-old Girl Scout Cadette from Highland Park, Illinois, refuses to let her peanut allergy define her.

As part of her Girl Scout Silver Award project, Susan created a video showing her self-administering epinephrine, a medication used to treat life-threatening allergic reactions, during one of her anaphylactic reactions.

“I think it’s super exciting and incredible,” said Susan of the response her video has received so far. “I’ve gotten thank-you notes and emails from people all over saying their kids had anxiety about their allergies and the video has helped them. Parents say it helps them feel safer about their kids. I’m really happy and glad that it’s helping people. I think it’s great.”

Recently, Susan completed an 18-month enrollment in a clinical trail at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, which used oral immunotherapy to help combat her severe peanut allergy. Although not 100-percent cured, Susan is now able to enjoy activities such as going to the movies and flying on a plane without fear of an allergic reaction from being in close proximity to a peanut product.

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Susan after a reaction to the clinical trial.

On Sunday, May 15, Susan was a guest speaker at the 2016 Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) National Food Allergy Conference in Orlando, Florida where she shared her experience with anaphylaxis from a teen’s perspective.

“Learning to self-administer epinephrine is especially important with teens because they do stuff without their parents with them,” she explained. “If you’re somewhere having a reaction and your parents aren’t there, you have to know how to do it and take responsibility for it.”

In addition to the video for her Silver Award project, Susan has increased awareness about food allergies by hosting epinephrine readiness workshops at local troop meetings and conducting an EpiPen training session at her 13th birthday party.

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Susan teaching a Lake Forest Brownie troop about epinephrine readiness in April.

“It’s important for teens to teach your friends how to administer an EpiPen so if you’re around them and have a reaction, they know what to do. I recommend injecting an orange with an expired EpiPen for practice,” she suggested. “Teach them about your allergy so they can help keep you safe.”

Girl Scouts Give Free Ski Lessons to Children and Adults with Autism

Girl Scouts Give Free Ski Lessons to Children and Adults with Autism

Lisle Girl Scouts braved the cold Sunday to help children and adults with autism try out skiing, some for the first time, at Four Lakes Alpine Snowsports.

Troop 50796 members Maeve Doyle, Amanda Laurinec, Marley Malczewski, Emme Moore and Briana Ortiz organized the event in an effort to achieve their Silver Award, which is the highest award a Girl Scout Cadette can earn.

Aside from helping the skiers, the eighth graders also handed out handmade coloring books and “super Crayons” that are easy for children with autism to use.

Four Lakes agreed to host the event and offer free admission to the autistic skiers and their families.

Lisa Sanchez traveled from Shorewood so her 6-year-old son Max, who has autism, could try out skiing.

Sanchez said “to be able to do something like this with the Girl Scouts so he can figure out if he likes it before we go find programs,” referring to her son’s special needs Sanchez added “if can be hard to find programs that just don’t throw them in with everyone else where then he struggles to keep up with everyone else.”

To read the full story, visit DailyHerald.com.

(Photo via Sue Larinec, Girl Scout troop leader)