St. Louis, MO – September 10, 2018 ─ Brandi James and Christine Newell, both 2017 graduates of Parkway West High School in Chesterfield, Mo., recently earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest achievement in Girl Scouting. By earning the award, James and Newell exemplify leaders who have transformed an idea for change into an actionable plan with a sustainable impact. James and Newell were among 53 Gold Award Girl Scouts recognized during a ceremony at Lindenwood University in St. Charles this summer.
Each year in the United States, more than 15,000 children and teens are diagnosed with cancer, according to the American Childhood Cancer Organization. That means every three minutes, a family faces a new reality filled with long hours of chemotherapy, illness and isolation. To earn her Gold Award, James devoted her time and energy to enriching the daily lives of children undergoing treatment at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
This G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader) TM organized a special day for patients and their families to take a break from their day-to-day stressors. James built a customized cornhole board, set up a special photobooth complete with wacky props, organized a coloring station and assembled a miniature bowling alley. James and her team of volunteers brought smiles to the more than 20 families who participated in the event. This Gold Award Girl Scout donated the activities she created to another local nonprofit, which this organization will use these special games to further their mission of providing recreational support to young patients.
Encouraging G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders) TM to take preventative steps and actions toward being safe is not new for Girl Scouts. The organization’s motto, “Be Prepared” dates to a 1917 edition of the Handbook for Girl Scouts. For her Gold Award project, Newell took it a step further and helped ensure lifeguards in her area were ready for a crisis. Using wire cutters, extension cords and tubing, she built oxygen tanks and practice AEDs for lifeguards to use while training. After assembling, Newell distributed the items to aquatic directors and local eastern Missouri YMCAs. To ensure an environment of safety for future generations, Newell created and handed out instructions replicating her homemade AEDs.
The Gold Award represents the culmination of more than 80 hours of work on a project that is important to each girl. Approximately one million high-school aged Girl Scouts have earned the Girl Scout Gold Award or its equivalent since 1916.
A young woman who has earned the Gold Award is a community leader. Gold Award Girl Scouts report a more positive sense of self, are more engaged civically and in community service, have more confidence in their leadership abilities, and experience greater life satisfaction and success relative to their peers. Some of the benefits of becoming a Gold Award Girl Scout are:
- Immediately rising one rank when enlisting in the US Armed Forces
- Earning scholarships from colleges and universities
- Recognition from government and non-profit organizations
Earning the Gold Award is just one of the amazing things girls can do as part of Girl Scouts. To join Girl Scouts or learn more about volunteering, please visit girlscoutsem.org/join.