A Spotlight on Gold Award Girl Scout Leah Wiegers
Taking action – that’s at the core of Girl Scouting and our Highest Awards. For girls like Leah Wiegers, a Girl Scout Ambassador from Lansing, KS, taking action means creating a healthier tomorrow for kids in her community. By using her leadership skills and going for Gold, Leah turned a Gold Award project into required screenings in her community. Leah is a girl who proves that G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)TM can’t be broken!
In 2012, Leah was diagnosed with scoliosis, an abnormal curvature of the spine. This was followed by years of treatment, including Leah wearing a specially designed brace to help the curve. While her treatments were successful, Leah discovered that many kids don’t have successful outcomes if they aren’t diagnosed early and it impacts them for the rest of their lives.
Leah has been a Girl Scout, learning about leadership, since kindergarten, so it’s no wonder she wanted to take action when she realized kids weren’t getting treatment they needed. As a mentor (with fellow Gold Award Girl Scout, Phoebe Taylor) to a younger troop in Lansing, it made it even more personal, knowing that age group needed screenings they currently weren’t getting.
Because of her work with these younger girls and her own experience with scoliosis, Leah decided to take action and ensure that kids had access to simple scoliosis screenings that could lead to life changing improvements in their health. “For girls, you screen in 5th & 7th grades, for boys, you screen 6th & 8th grades. If you catch it early, you can stop the curve from getting worse. The older girls get, the worse their curve gets,” Leah said.
Through her research, Leah discovered that advancements in technology have made scoliosis screenings easier than ever. A screening app that’s available for $5 is the only tool a trained school nurse needs to run screenings once a year. In her final proposal to the USD 469 school board, Leah was able to show that it would only cost schools an estimated $500 per year to screen all students in the suggested grade levels for scoliosis. If a nurse determined a student might have scoliosis, she referred them to an outside doctor so they could receive a diagnosis and treatment option.
Thanks to her hard work, Leah’s plan is now mandatory in all USD 469 (Lansing) elementary schools! Taking it to the next level, Leah and her advisor helped submit HSB2253 to the Kansas House of Representatives that would require scoliosis testing in all elementary schools in Kansas. Talk about making serious positive change.
Aside from the incredible work she’s done for her community, Leah thinks that the growth she experienced as a person was the best part of her Gold Award project. “While successes feel great, the best part of the Gold Award has been my personal growth. Nothing feels better than knowing I can stand in front of a group and be a leader,” Leah said.
What an incredible example of a G.I.R.L. making real change! Thanks to girls like Leah, Girl Scouts are making our future look brighter and HEALTHIER for everyone!
And, check out others taking notice of Leah’s great work. She was recently featured as a Fox 4 Young Achiever. Watch the story now.