Girl Scouts are out to make a difference in their community while completing the Gold Award along the way. Eleven young women attended their final Girl Scout Gold Award interview and evaluation last Tuesday evening, the last step in completing the approval process for earning this prestigious award. The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest, national achievement within Girl Scouting for girls, 9th through 12th grade. Only 5.4% of eligible Girl Scouts successfully complete their project. To earn the Girl Scout Gold Award requires a minimum of 80 hours of planning and implementing a challenging, large-scale project that shows leadership, is innovative, engages others and has a lasting impact on the community with an emphasis on sustainability.
Danielle Dowdy, Emily Esther, Rachel Musick, MaryAnn VanWalleghen and Chelsea Welch are Girl Scout Seniors and Ambassadors that made it a point to go for the gold. These five young women stood out with extraordinary projects that will surely prove to have a lasting impact on the targeted community.
Danielle Dowdy, a 16-year-old Girl Scout from Ste. Genevieve, Mo., dedicated months to creating a goldfish pond in the Cancer Center Garden at Sainte Genevieve’s Memorial Hospital while earning her Girl Scout Gold Award. The Cancer Center Garden is a place for oncology patients and their families to visit to reflect. Danielle’s objective was to provide a comforting and soothing element to the hospital’s garden. She spent her summer spreading mulch, tending and watering plants, gathering large rocks, and installing a water fountain at the center of the pond.
Danielle said that she decided to focus her project on improving the hospital’s garden because wanted to give families and patients a place to relax and see the beauty of life. Ste. Genevieve employees have said that Danielle’s project has proven to be very soothing for patients.
Danielle feels that the Girl Scout Gold Award project has positively affected her life by helping her become more of a leader. She also said that she is more caring and respectful toward her community and the rest of the world. Danielle said that the most successful part of her Gold Award project was learning that the garden was so well-received.
Emily Esther, a 16-year-old Girl Scout from the Frontenac area, dedicated more than 100 hours toward renovating a visitation room for supervised meetings between parents and children at Every Child’s Hope Foster Care Facility for her Girl Scout Gold Award. Every Child’s Hope (ECH) is a non-profit organization that works with children who are wards of the court by assisting them and their families in their individual quest for health and wholeness through quality, faithful, professional services.
Prior to Emily’s renovation, the visiting room was described as sparse, stark and cavernous. Emily made a supply list, investigated costs and recruited volunteers to assist her with the renovation. She consulted with an interior designer and shopped for supplies and tool rentals. Emily also painted the room and collected furniture, toys and books to be placed throughout the area.
Emily’s completed project was so successful that ECH employees praised her performance. Michael P. Brennan, the Executive Director of Every Child’s Hope, wrote to say that the space is used more often than ever before and that in many cases the kids don’t want to leave. He also said that before Emily completed her Girl Scout project the space was large and spacious but lacked a warm and friendly place for therapists to work with children and families. Emily is responsible for solving that problem.
Rachel Musick, a 17-year-old Girl Scout from South City, dedicated years to receiving funding and approval from her local government to build a physical fitness station in Tilles Park. Rachel worked with the City Parks Department, her neighborhood alderman, and the park association. Rachel started her project in February 2009 and finished in August 2011.
In addition to the exercise station, Rachel’s project includes a map of the park’s walking path and distance markers for park users to keep track of how much they’ve exercised. The exercise station includes a push-up station, a body-curl station, a bench-dip station and more.
Rachel said that receiving approval and working with her local government was a challenge that she’s glad she’s had to overcome. Throughout her project she also had to adjust to budget cuts which required her to redesign plans she had for the park. From this experience Rachel said that she’s learned that she has a bit more patience than she originally thought. She also said that she was happy to learn that she’s able to stick it out in situations even when things are not looking up.
Rachel believes that her exercise station is a great addition to the park and she knows that it will always be used. She hopes that by completing the exercise station, she will inspire people in the community to go outside and exercise.
MaryAnn VanWalleghen, a 17-year-old Girl Scout from O’Fallon, dedicated months to painting the alphabet and seasons on ceiling tiles for a kindergarten room at Independence Elementary. The tiles are used in the to help reinforce the letters and sounds the children are being taught in the classroom. To make the tiles fun, MaryAnn added pictures to accompany each letter.
MaryAnn said that one challenge she faced during her project was changing the pictures she used to accompany each letter to match the phonemic teaching style being used at the school called LTRS. MaryAnn recalls having a hard time deciding on a picture to accompany the letter “E.” Elephant is the first thing to come to mind but the phonemic teaching style says that the pronunciation of elephant most closely resembles the letter “L.”
MaryAnn overcame her challenge and delivered a great product. She also displayed leadership by recruiting people to help her paint the ceiling tiles, which was not an easy task. The ceiling tiles require several coats of primer and if too much paint was added too fast, the tiles would warp.
MaryAnn said that most successful part of her project was hearing about the joy the kindergartners felt when they saw the new tiles in the classroom. MaryAnn hopes that the tiles will get students excited about learning their ABCs. School employees have said that it is their understanding that the new tiles will become a permanent fixture in the classroom.
Chelsea Welch, an 18-year-old Girl Scout for Jefferson County, Mo., assumed the role of a fair coordinator for her Gold Award project by helping to plan the Mastodon Art & Science Regional Fair. The role that Chelsea assumed is normally a paid position but due to lack of funding the role was eliminated. If Chelsea had not stepped up, all of the work she did would not have been done by anyone. Chelsea’s work was so successful that she helped attract over 3500 visitors, more than the event has ever had in the past.
Chelsea’s responsibilities included getting the word out about the fair, creating a red carpet event for sponsors and awardees, decorating the Jefferson College Field House, organizing the registration/sigh in of the students, and determining activities for visitors of all ages. Chelsea inspired sponsors to attend the event by putting an article in the paper, making an announcement at church, and talking to people personally about the importance of the event. Chelsea felt that it was important that the children participating in this art and science fair felt appreciated and accomplished.
From this experience, Chelsea said that she has learned that she is good at time management and event coordination. She has also learned how to be more outgoing and assertive. She felt her biggest success was that it was the most attended event in the history of the fair.
Jill Macom, the Executive Director of the Mastodon Fair, wrote to say that Chelsea put on one of the best organized events that her team has seen. Jill said that Chelsea has definitely laid a foundation that could be used by others to put on this event in years to come.
In June, these young ladies will join the 2012 Gold Awardees to be honored and receive their award in a special Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri council-wide recognition ceremony. Girl Scouts will continue to complete their Gold Award project through the end of this year and the beginning of the 2012. Stay tuned for additional stories about other Girl Scouts from eastern Missouri completing extraordinary projects.