Spotlight on Gold Award Girl Scout, Faith Endsley
The Girl Scout Gold Award is the most prestigious award in the world for girls, the most difficult to earn and it’s only attainable by Girl Scouts. The Gold Award requires a Girl Scout to identify an issue that is important to her and her community. She researches, plans, presents and takes action, spending no less than 80 hours on a project that will be sustainable within her community.
When Girl Scout Ambassador Faith Endsley started thinking about going Gold, she knew exactly what she wanted to do to improve the community that she is a part of.
Faith is a member of Girls Night Out (GNO), a social skills and self-care program for adolescent girls with autism and other developmental disabilities through the University of Kansas Medical System. Through GNO, girls who have autism are paired up with a mentor, a girl who does not have autism for one year. Throughout that year they get together for monthly activities like movie outings, shopping events, spa nights and holiday parties, just to name a few. However, when that year is over the mentors and participants are considered alumni and the program is just over for those girls. There weren’t next steps or resources for those girls who had spent a year making friends, interpreting social cues, learning personal hygiene, working on their eye contact and other things that those with autism struggle with.
That wasn’t something that set well with Faith who was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3. So, for her Gold Award project, she put together a plan to expand the GNO program far beyond that first year.
“I’ve learned things like self-care skills, how to dress and social skills [because of GNO],” Faith said.
Faith worked closely with the founder of the program and her community advisor, Dr. Jamison to put together multiple resources for GNO program alumni. One of the resources was an application for girls to complete that would better match them with others of similar interests.
“It’s hard sometimes for girls with autism to make friends,” Faith said.
This application will allow girls to be matched with other girls based on shared interests, removing the sometimes awkward step of finding common ground when trying to make a new friend with autism.
The second part of her project was to create a catalog of activities that girls could reference when planning activities. Faith spent hours researching and compiling a wide variety of activities being sure to include time of year, location, cost and other details that are important in selecting activities to do with friends.
“I want to see girls connecting, making and keeping friends because they’re doing things together that they’re both interested in [through Girls Night Out],” she said.
Lastly, she put together a presentation for Dr. Jamison to be able to use to tell the GNO story. She will be used at conferences to encourage her colleagues across the country to start similar programs and be shared with potential donors to garner additional support for the program.
At this point, Faith has put more than 160 hours into her Gold Award project and still working with Dr. Jamison to get everything hosted online and distributed to the alumni.
Community service is something that Faith is passionate about and Faith’s mom, Christie Endsley credits the structure of her Girl Scout meetings these past eight years for fostering this passion within Faith. Each month the troop would have one meeting of a fun activity, a meeting that involved a badge lesson and a meeting that would be community service.
Just this week, Faith made and donated 14 pet blankets to KC Pet Project and she regularly folds origami and fills it with candy, delivering to police and fire stations and emergency rooms on all the major holidays.
“It makes me feel good to help others,” Faith said.
In addition to the Gold Award, Faith has also earned the Girl Scout Silver and Bronze Awards. Her community service has earned her the Bronze Presidential Medal of Service and the Gold Presidential Medal of Service – skipping right over the Silver!
Faith will graduate from Staley High School in May with a 3.88 GPA and all the honors mentioned above.
“I want to be a medical laboratory technologist,” Faith proudly said.
Right now she’s looking at two options following graduation. She’s applied to Project Search at Children’s Mercy Hospital, a program that allows students to experience what a career in the medical field is like before deciding to pursue that education path. Her second option is to attend Maple Woods Community College where she’s earned herself two years of free tuition through the A+ program because of her outstanding academic performance.
“[When she was diagnosed with autism] the doctors said she wouldn’t have a sense of humor. Anyone who knows her knows how funny she is! They weren’t sure she would talk or be social. They didn’t think she would have any empathy. It was very gloomy diagnosis,” Christie Endsley explained. “Here she is doing community service like crazy! She’s excelled past all expectations, medically and personally.”
“I plan to be a lifetime Girl Scout member and remain active with Girl Scouts. I will participate in GNO Connections as a founder, member, coordinator and supporter. It’s good to have positive girl groups to belong to. It gives me a sisterhood I do not get anywhere else.”
Join us on April 14 at Inspire a Girl where we will celebrate Faith and our 59 other Gold Award Girl Scouts. If you stop by Faith’s display, she might just have a special treat for you…