St. Louis, MO – Sept. 23, 2016 – Patricia Busch, Elizabeth Newell, Pujita Ravichandar and Megan Todd, all graduates of the Parkway School District, were among 42 young women in eastern Missouri to earn the Girl Scout Gold Award this year. 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the Gold Award, the highest award attainable in Girl Scouting.
Busch, a 2015 Parkway West High School graduate, wanted to connect young people with elderly citizens, fostering relationships that benefit both the individuals and the community. She established an intergenerational program at Briarcrest Senior Living Facility, connecting high school students with residents. The program helps residents stay connected with the community and maintain their social skills. The students hosted games and performances for residents to enjoy, eliminating age stereotypes and creating cross-generational bonds.
“I want to be a director of a nonprofit, and this project helped me realize that,” Busch said. Her experience earning her Gold Award also helped her land an internship at a nonprofit in Springfield, Mo., where she is studying child and family development and political science at Missouri State University.
For her Gold Award, Newell, also a 2015 Parkway West High School graduate, worked to improve a local afterschool care program at Bethlehem After School Program in North St. Louis. She planned and created 27 lessons for the charter school’s afterschool program, which encourage creative thinking, teamwork and character development through crafts, games and readings. In addition to supplies Newell collected from community members, she also donated a flash drive of activity templates for the school to use in the future.
“I learned a lot about delegation through my project,” Newell said. “Some of my friends and other Girl Scouts agreed to help out, and it taught me that I don’t have to do everything to be a leader—I can ask for help.
Americans generate billions of tons of food waste each year, filling up landfills and producing greenhouse gases. Composting, the recycling of organic materials into nutrient-rich soil, is a low-cost alternative that inspired 2016 Parkway Central High School graduate and Truman State University freshman Ravichandar as she began working on her Gold Award. She instituted a composting program at the Hindu Temple of St. Louis, giving the kitchen staff an alternative, environmentally beneficial waste-disposal method. The composting system significantly reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills, and allows the composted vegetable scraps to be put to use in the temple’s garden.
“My favorite part about completing the Gold Award project was seeing the finished result of my composting system,” she said. “It was also wonderful watching people be inspired by my project and begin composting in their own homes.”
After learning about Brailling children’s books through volunteer work, Todd, a Parkway West High School graduate, recognized an opportunity to help children affected by visual impairments and blindness. She created three sets of 25 twin-vision Braille books, meaning they can be read by both visually-impaired and sighted readers, for schools in the Special School District of St. Louis County. Braille is the only system through which children with profound or total loss of sight can learn to read and write. Todd also created a PowerPoint and brochure explaining the Brailling process as well as other outlets that can be utilized to support a child with visual impairments.
The Gold Award is the highest national award a Girl Scout Senior or Ambassador, girls in grade 9-12, can earn. Attaining the Girl Scout Gold Award requires a significant amount of time planning and implementing a challenging, large-scale project that is innovative, engages others and has a lasting impact on its targeted community with an emphasis on sustainability.
Less than one percent of all Girl Scouts earn the Girl Scout Gold Award, putting them among an exceptional group of women who have used their knowledge and leadership skills to make a difference in the world. Some of the Gold Awardee benefits are:
- A Girl Scout who has earned her Gold Award and enlists in the US Armed Forces, immediately rises one level in rank
- Colleges and universities recognize the achievements and leadership abilities of Girl Scout Gold Award recipients by offering scholarship programs
- Achievements of the Girl Scout Gold Award recipients are acknowledged by many government and non-profit organizations