Take Action – Change the World – Inspire Others

Wrapping Up 2018 Inspire a Girl

What a truly inspiring day we had on April 14 at the Overland Park Convention Center! Girl Scouts, volunteers, alums and supporters joined us to celebrate our 60 Gold Award Girl Scouts!

These young women have made an extraordinary impact on their communities through the Gold Award. Each Girl Scout completed a Take Action project with a minimum of 80 hours in planning and implementation. They have created lasting change through sustainable projects and their impact will be felt for years to come.  Their Take Action projects included STEM kits for Children’s Mercy, education workshops on local political issues and reading programs for the underserved, just to name a few. Read about all of their projects here!

We kicked off the day with a special breakfast for Gold Award Girl Scouts and program investors, hosted by GSKSMO CEO Joy Wheeler. Girls were joined by our very special guest, creator of Willow Tree and artist/maker, Susan Lordi! Each Gold Award Girl Scout received her new Willow Tree piece, “Butterfly,” to remind them that they are the ultimate Butterfly – resilient, determined, courageous and beautiful, courtesy of DEMDACO!

To encourage Girl Scouts to “Shine Bright like a G.I.R.L.”, they visited a combination of Community Partner and GSKSMO Program booths, to collect a Go-Getter, Innovator, Risk-Taker and Leader sticker for their card! Activities included digitally connected instruments made from everyday objects with Google Fiber, Play60 games with the Kansas City Chiefs, building towers with Kansas Children’s Discovery Center and painting kindness rocks with Treehouse Art Studio, just to name a few!

Upstairs Girl Scouts visited Bronze and Silver Award Girl Scouts, collecting their respective starburst sticker!  They completed their activity card by visiting with at least four Gold Award Girl Scouts and earned their Inspire a Girl patch!

Our very special guest, Gold Award Alum, Miss Teen USA and keynote for the Gold Award Ceremony, Sophia Dominguez-Heithoff joined in on the G.I.R.L expo fun and did a special photo op with Girl Scouts before heading into the ballroom to celebrate the stars of the day, our Gold Award Girl Scouts.

This extraordinary day culminated with our Gold Award Ceremony where the Gold Award Girl Scouts officially received their Gold Award Pin and the Beth Winters Memorial Scholarship was presented to Isabella Barnes, Emily Musembi and Chloe Rothery.

The ceremony was keynoted by Sophia, who shared her story of “Shining Bright like a G.I.R.L.” Her message was powerful and she encouraged girls to hold onto their Girl Scout roots and use them as a platform and springboard to continue creating change within their communities, wherever they may go.

Left: Beth Winters Memorial Scholarship Recipients, Emily Musembi, Isabella Barnes and Chloe Rothery. Center: Gold Award Girl Scout MaKynzee Gaddy with her Pinners. Right: Sophia Dominguez-Heithoff delivering the keynote.

As Dr. Seuss so greatly said, “Congratulations, today is your day. You’re off to great places! You’re off and away!”

See all the photos from the day, the Gold Award Take Action Project video and Sophia’s Keynote on our webpage.

We want to hear how you were inspired at Inspire a Girl, so leave us a comment below!

A SmART Gold Award Girl Scout

Inspiring today youth is one of the best ways to make a lasting impact on the world. When Girl Scout Grace Brunner decided to answer the call to Take Action, she wanted it to be with a project that connects underserved children with arts education. Working with Avenue of Life in Kansas City, KS, Grace established Camp SmART for underserved children to help them develop art and critical thinking skills through arts education.

This project grew out of a love for arts education and a passion for helping other kids get the same experiences she got as a kid. “Even though I’m not pursuing a career in arts education, I learned a lot as a kid from it and I’ve been involved with arts organizations,” Grace said. By providing arts programs to kids in areas with limited funding means Grace is putting the power of education in the hands of kids who may otherwise not have access to it. That’s the power of the Gold Award – a Girl Scout learning to lead while improving her community!

 

Grace with students at Camp SmART!

“I had some of the best art teachers in the world and I can’t imagine getting to where I am now without those teachers and opportunities,” Grace said. After doing research on the improvements students have in academic testing when exposed to art, Grace felt exposing young students to the arts would help them across the board in their educational pursuits. By improving their connection with the arts, it could have a positive impact on their information processing and critical thinking skills.

For her arts camp, Grace had students come daily over winter break and take art classes at Avenue of Life. The students did painting and other artistic activities while surrounded by encouraging instructors. Thanks to her project, students had a fun, art-filled winter break!

Not only did the camp fill a need for students in KCK, it gave Grace a better understanding of the needs of students in underserved communities. “It was a new experience for me because, growing up in Blue Valley, I had so many educational opportunities available to me. When we did this camp, I saw the students were from districts that are underfunded, some were homeless and were coming to camp while their parents went to food kitchens. It was a very different experience than what I grew up with,” Grace said.

 

Grace Brunner as a young Girl Scout through Ambassador!

Earning the Gold Award has been the pinnacle of Grace’s amazing Girl Scout journey. Starting as a Kindergartener, she got to experience field trips, working with a group and building a support system that all came together through working on her Gold Award project. “I love Girl Scouts because we have so many opportunities [… such as] leadership experiences, outdoor opportunities, the chance to be entrepreneurs.  It’s just so much programming that people don’t even realize,” Grace said.

“Through the Gold Award, I found an inner leadership and strength I didn’t know was there,” Grace said. With all her incredible work on her Gold Award under her belt and years of Girl Scouting to prepare her, Grace is now excelling at the University of Kansas, volunteering as Director of Hospital and Family Relations for KU Dance Marathon, a charity by students at KU. She’s also serving as an intern for Kansas House Representative Koesten! Talk about a G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™

We couldn’t be more proud of Grace or her incredible work through Girl Scouts to serve her community! You can meet Grace and our awesome 2018 Gold Award Girl Scout class at Inspire a Girl on Saturday, April 14th!

Stepping into Leadership

A Spotlight on Gold Award Girl Scout Abby Bidwell

This year we are truly honored to celebrate 60 Gold Award Girl Scouts during the biggest party of the year, Inspire a Girl! These girls have completed outstanding projects addressing needs in their communities. As these girls worked to go Gold, they put in countless hours to execute a plan and conduct research to leave their mark as a Girl Scout.

Girl Scout Ambassador Abby Bidwell understood what it would take to achieve the Gold Award, after earning both the Bronze and Silver Awards she was not afraid to take on the challenge.

When Abby discovered a student council program was not offered to the students at Tiffany Ridge Elementary, she instantly wanted to come up with something that would encourage 5th graders to begin stepping into leadership roles preparing them for middle school. She decided the best way to tackle the issue was to create the Emerging Leaders club.

Not only would the club help students learn the importance of being leaders in their community but as the club’s creator and ambassador, Abby would help students develop skills in public speaking and team work while they improved work ethic. Emerging Leaders students were able to work closely together to plan spirit assemblies for Tiffany Ridge Elementary. Abby led as a risk-taking Girl Scout by helping her students create a huge change in the school community, implementing student-led assemblies at the elementary level.

The impact of the first assembly was reported to Abby following a conversation she had with one of the teachers, “the next day, a second grader told their teacher he wanted to try really hard to have perfect attendance so his name can be called at the next assembly,” Abby said.

Abby did not anticipate the impact Emerging Leaders would have on the younger student or herself. She stated, “I’m inspiring 5th graders, while they are inspiring everyone else.” Later in her project she decided to create an Emerging Leaders manual providing the parent letter, an application and t-shirt permission slips along with every meeting agenda. With the hopes of encouraging other people to sponsor Emerging Leaders in different schools, Abby provided all 10 elementary schools in Park Hill High School District with a manual.

Assembly at Tiffany Ridge Elementary School

“I hope to see more students interested in leadership and more teachers and parents supporting student leadership in the future,” she said.

To share their story, Emerging Leaders had the opportunity to sit down with Channel 18 news for an interview. In the interview, members of Emerging Leaders expressed what they learned throughout the year and how they felt their skills would impact them in the future.

“Emerging Leaders has helped me become who I want to be and who I strive to be every day, and to be the leader I want to be when I grow up.” Lydia Keller shared. By educating students and parents about the importance of student leadership, the students of Emerging Leaders plan to apply to be a part of their middle and high school Student Council.

With the help of Tiffany Ridge’s principal, Mr. Fitzmorris, Abby has put 110 hours into her Gold Award project and will continue to work with the kids of Emerging Leaders to influence more guidance among the younger generation.

“I told my 5th graders that this is a place where they are the leaders and here, they don’t have to wait for a teacher or parent to tell them what to do. They get to decide.”

As Abby worked through her Gold Award project she had the chance to experience what it would be like to be a teacher. Getting the experience to email parents, work with the students and be their teacher for a few hours out of the week, Abby discovered her passion for teaching and established her desired career path. She plans to be a secondary education teacher and is considering the Peace Corps to impact students internationally through her teaching.

“Being a leader is fun, but having our voice heard and being part of making something happen is amazing!”

Congratulations on earning your Gold Award, Abby! We’re excited to celebrate you and the 59 other Gold Award Girl Scouts at Inspire a Girl on April 14!

Student. Volunteer. Go-Getter.

Spotlight on Lifetime Member and Gold Award Girl Scout, Sara Huelskamp

Leading by example and taking a chance, Gold Award Girl Scout Alum Sara Huelskamp has shown her desire to help others and influence the girls around her.

Sara’s Girl Scout journey didn’t stop after she received her Bronze, Silver and Gold Award in the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles Council. As a sophomore at Kansas State University studying construction engineering, Sara was called back to her passion when she found out her neighbor’s troop was losing their troop leader and disbanding. Like any good Girl Scout, Sara stepped up and reorganized Troop 2081 in Manhattan, Kansas. “I didn’t want them to not have a troop, I knew what Girl Scouts did for me and I didn’t want them to miss out on that,” Sara said.

Left: Sara’s troop in front of the mural they painted for their Bronze Award. Center: Sara and her troop at the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace. Right: Sara carrying a banner in the Rose Parade, which only Gold Award Girl Scouts and Eagle Scouts have the honor.

As a Girl Scout Junior, Sara’s troop worked with a local youth shelter to do renovation projects and paint an inspirational mural inside the cottage to earn their Bronze Award. Through that one project, Sara’s troop built a long-lasting relationship with the shelter.

“The troop worked clean up days, raked leaves, would help at events, meals, fairs and festivals. It was one of those places we were just at all the time,” Sara said.

When it came time to do her Silver and Gold Award projects, she had a cause she was passionate about and a long list of projects she knew would have a sustainable and lasting impact. “Girl Scout highest awards give you a sense of accomplishment. You get to know more about yourself and your community,” Sara said.

Through the Girl Scout experiences Sara facilitates, she’s helping girls identify their strengths and teaching them that they shouldn’t be afraid to accomplish anything, in hopes of encouraging them to earn their Gold Award.

“Girls who earn their Gold Award have a desire to help others,” she said. “It’s not a selfish goal to have.”

Sara with Girl Scouts from Troop 2081 at various events.

Next month, Sara will be graduating from K-State and is moving back to Los Angeles where she plans to find a full time job and continue volunteering with Girl Scouts. She has been working with and training parents to keep the Girl Scout Brownie troop going when she moves back home.

“There are a couple girls in my troop who are already talking about what they want to do for their Gold Award!”

Thanks for leading like a Girl Scout, Sara and inspiring more girls to #gogold! We wish you the best as you pursue your dreams!