Award-winning Girl Scouts from around the country made a special trip to Capital Hill in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 28 to unveil the first U.S. Mint Girl Scouts of the USA Centennial Silver Dollar coin.
Anna Maria Chavez, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA), said that she was joined by “incredible” young women.
“Last week, I was privileged to be joined in our nation’s capitol by more than 20 Girl Scout Gold Award recipients and their council CEOs from across the United States,” Chavez wrote in her column in The Huffington Post on March 5. Congress reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act (S. 47) the on same day as the breakfast.
Nearly one in two adult women in the United States has at some point in their life been a member of Girl Scouts, according to a study from GSUSA. GSUSA was founded on March 12, 1912, by Juliette Gordon Low in Savannah, Ga., and today there are 3.2 million Girl Scouts across the country, according to the Girl Scout fact sheet.
Among the attendees at Capitol Hill was Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), who remembers his sister’s Girl Scouts meetings when he was kid. He said that from those meetings he learned “how to cook a pancake on a potato pan,” according to The Hill. Kingston encouraged his own daughters to join the Brownies—the division for girls in the second and third grades.
Troop Capitol Hill, the Honorary Congressional Girl Scout Troop established by the Public Policy and Advocacy office, is a bipartisan delegation of women in Congress who advocate for issues affecting girls and young women. The troop is led by Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) and Kay Granger (R-Texas) and Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-M.D.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine).
According to Chavez, fewer than 6 percent of Girl Scouts each year are awarded the Gold Award. The award takes at least 1 to 2 years to earn, and it gives the recipient exclusive scholarships or advanced ranking in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Courtney Shelton, a Girl Scouts Gold Award winner, attended the event and wrote on her blog, called Define Perfect, that winning the gold “requires identifying an issue, building a team, and conducting a project that takes 80 hours and has a sustainable impact on your community.”
“At just 16 or 17 years of age, these young women have already done things that most adults could not conceive of and accomplished things few would have the courage to even try,” according to Chavez.
Chavez also wrote that some of the young ladies “have overcome unbelievable hardships in their personal lives, rising above challenges that may have crippled someone without the iron will of a Girl Scout.”
Shelton’s blog project, which she debuted in December 2012, is a “positive-image boosting internet movement,” according to the Girl Scout Blog.
“The problem that I want to tackle in the world? People who feel the need to fit molds created for them by society, the people they associate with, or themselves,” wrote Shelton, according to the Girl Scout Blog.
Shelton encourages people via the Internet to reflect on what “perfect” is, and in the meantime, she encourages people to mention positive qualities in others.
“Every single person has some positive quality worth mentioning. So why wait to do it?” Shelton wrote on her blog. The idea is that if you see the good in others, then you will see it in yourself.
Five Outstanding Guests
At the breakfast on Capitol Hill, five of the Gold Award-winning Girl Scouts designated “National Young Women of Distinction” were in attendance.
Chavez wrote that it is a special honor.
If a Girl Scout Gold Award recipient’s final project shows “extraordinary leadership, had a measurable and sustainable impact and addressed a local challenge that related to a national and/or global issue,” then they are awarded 1 of the 10 spots as a National Women of Distinction.
This year’s National Women of Distinction, announced in early January, honored girls that worked on supplying water to a village in Africa and others that successfully advocated lawmakers to pass a bill that requires safe-dating education in school, among others.
“It was awesome hearing about the other projects of some of the girls from all over the country and being able to show something for the organization besides Thin Mints and Tagalongs (notice those don’t need an explanation),” wrote Shelton.
National Women of Distinction and What They Accomplished
Katie from Greater Iowa discovered that bats were annoying people in her community, but also that they play an important part in the ecosystem. She built bat houses for the Warren County Conservation Board. The houses can collectively hold about 6,000 bats.
Briana from Nebraska designed and created a puppet theater together with her friends and family that she donated to a nonprofit organization called Completely KIDS. She wrote 10 different scripts, sponsored 30 puppets, and led a donation drive to collect costumes for the children.
Mandy from Texas designed an aquarium and a three-day curriculum for fifth graders on the ocean’s health and environmental threats to the ecosystem.
Jamila from Florida raised awareness about the youth in war-torn Northern Uganda.
Miranda from Michigan developed and implemented a comprehensive volunteer service program using social media and a Ning website to match service-based organizations with the 2,000 high school students who reside in a local school district.
Addison from Wisconsin started a club called “Break the Silence” at her school designed to be an alliance for those suffering with mental illness. After her cousin’s suicide, she began to feel depressed and anxious. She wanted to change the stigma around mental illness.
Zoe from Atlanta created the W.I.S.H. (Women in Science and Health) Careers Network for High School Girls, which aims to increase the knowledge and interest of high school girls towards STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) careers.
Katherine of Florida created a library at a local family learning center. Her goal was to help children of migrant workers. She is a survivor of human trafficking in the United States and understands the hardships of learning English as a second language. At a young age, she relied heavily on books in her quest to learn English. She created a website to raise awareness about her project and raise funds. Students at the family learning center reported to have improved reading grades within the first year.
Nicole from New Jersey ran a program at her middle school on dating abuse and violence in the media. She advocated for legislation that requires safe-dating education be provided to middle and high school students as part of their health curriculum. The law passed. She then took the new legislation and created a club at her school that hosts performances and events. They made an informational DVD for other schools on healthy relationships and the media.
Sricharana from California created an African culture-awareness show. Over 500 people attended, and the proceeds were used so that she could travel to Tanzania. In Africa, she constructed a water retention system and goat pen for a cooperative of 10 women and their families.
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