Youth Leadership Month is observed during February to motivate young people to showcase their leadership skills and positively impact their community. Madilyn Zagarri, a freshman at Oakville High School, used the skills she gained through the Girl Scout Leadership Experience to reduce the amount of plastic in landfills to earn her Girl Scout Silver Award.
Zagarri decided to take action and find an innovative solution to the negative impact plastic bags have on our planet by turning T-shirts into reusable bags. Zagarri began by organizing a donation drive where she collected 550 shirts which she then cut and sewed into t-totes, reusable bags made from the shirt material. Zagarri’s totes are estimated to prevent more than 8,000 bags from ending in landfills. After she completed making her bags, Zagarri set up a booth at her local farmers market and partnered with several Little Free Libraries to distribute the bags within her community. Each bag that Zagarri handed out included detailed instructions for those who wanted to learn how to make their t-totes. Finally, Zagarri donated the remaining bags to St. Anthony’s Food Pantry for patrons to use when visiting the pantry.
“I would encourage other Girl Scouts to go for the Silver Award because part of being a Girl Scout is making the world a better place,” said Zagarri. “It makes you step outside of your comfort zone, look around and see what problems are in your community and what positive impact you can have. Every Girl Scout can make a change in their community for the better.”
The Girl Scout Silver Award is the highest honor a Girl Scout Cadette, girls in 6th-8th grade can achieve. It requires girls to identify a need in their community and dedicate on average more than 50 hours towards addressing and solving the issue. When Girl Scout Cadettes focus on an issue, they care about, learn the facts, take action to make a difference, and they gain the confidence and skills that catapult them to lifelong success.