Celebrating the POWER of Girl

By GSKSMO CEO, Joy Wheeler

Why am I Excited for International Day of the Girl?
Today is our opportunity to call special attention to major issues happening right now that supports this 100% youth-led movement for gender justice and youth rights. Gender inequality is a reality we can’t ignore and the issue isn’t confined to developing countries. The World Economic Forum ranks the United States 51st in terms of gender equality out of 149 countries! 

The United Nations established the official “International Day of the Girl Child” to help galvanize worldwide enthusiasm for efforts to improve girls’ lives, providing an opportunity for them to show leadership and reach their full potential. The U.S. Day of the Girl is a bold move on the part of girls and their supporters to break the cycle of discrimination and violence and promote and protect the full benefits of their human rights.

How are you celebrating? Is there something you can DO to make a difference? Yes, there is!

There is NO organization better aligned with these goals than Girl Scouts! We have the most experience in girl leadership development throughout the world. On this special day, we’re lifting up the Gold Award– a prestigious award earned by more than 1 million girls since 1916. Gold Award Girl Scouts are the visionaries and the doers who take on a major challenge project to “make the world a better place.” The Girl Scout Gold Award is the mark of the truly remarkable girl—proof that not only can she make a difference, but that she already has. Seniors and Ambassadors (9th-12th graders) who earn the Gold Award take action on issues that are of great concern to them and drive lasting change in their communities and beyond. They take on challenges as diverse as Alzheimer’s Disease education and support, teenage suicide intervention, environmental cleanup, literacy reading programs and STEM discovery.

Research shows that Gold Award Girl Scouts have more positive life outcomes as adult women– measured by volunteerism, community and civic engagement, education level and socioeconomic status. We can proudly claim the work of Gold Award Girl Scouts address the critical issues in today’s world head on.  Get inspired by watching Girl Scouts’ powerful 30 second PSA, The Mark of the Truly Remarkable and get to know some of our region’s Gold Award Girl Scouts. 

On this Day of the Girl, I ask you to Stand Up for Girls. You can take action right now! Contribute to Girl Scouts, volunteer as a community partner or mentor and contact ME to learn about our movement and become a Champion for Girls by joining the 51% Solution!

Double the Gold, Double the Impact

Spotlight on 2019 Gold Award Girl Scout Twins Claire & Grace Genis

Reaching for Gold is the ultimate goal for every young Girl Scout. However, achieving the Gold Award is much more difficult than one might expect. Gold Award Girl Scouts must take all they have learned from their time as a Girl Scout and develop a project that will create sustainable lasting change in their community.

 To earn a Gold Award, Girl Scouts epitomize what it means to be a G.I.R.L., by being a go-getter, an innovator, a risk-taker and a leader. These are the reasons the Gold Award is the most prestigious award for Girls in the world! Grace and Claire Genis are two Girl Scouts in the 2019 Gold Award class who have a special sisterhood beyond the Girl Scout community. They are twins!

When asked to describe their sister in three words, Claire describes Grace as “intelligent, hardworking and kind.” Grace describes Claire as “bubbly, creative and happy”. Since joining Girl Scouts in kindergarten, Grace and Claire have gone on to earn all three of the Highest Awards in Girl Scouting, the Bronze, Silver and Gold Award.

The girls still look back at the beginning of their Girl Scout journey fondly, recalling a visit to the fire station as Daisies. “The firefighters talked to us and we got a tour […] I just thought it was super cool,” Grace said. “I really liked the camp outs when we learned about astronomy and the telescopes,” Claire said.

The idea of two girls Going for Gold in one household seemed impossible but these Go-Getter Girl Scouts and their family worked together to help their local community. Claire and Grace have grown up inspired by their mother who followed her heart and works with special needs students. Her suggestions helped the girls use their own passions to form strong and innovative project plans.

Grace’s project, titled Operation Explore the World, addressed the lack of materials in her community for visually impaired students. Grace is visually impaired and built four light boxes, which are used to develop awareness of light, color and objects for students also challenged with a visual impairment. As a student who has faced the same obstacles, Grace knows the power this project will have on young kids who are just beginning their educational journey.

Claire’s project, titled Music for Everyone, addressed the lack of clubs and activities offered to special needs students in her high school. Claire developed a music club for these students and received 12 donated instruments; a total value of over $10,000 dollars. A majority of the instrument donations were supplied by Band of Angels, an organization that collects donated instruments and distributes them to children in need.

Claire and Grace implemented their leadership skills by getting their community members involved with their projects. Grace successfully recruited high school students and family members to help build lightboxes that are sturdy and will last for years. Claire recruited and organized students at her high school to teach music to special needs students each week. “Once I told [other band students] about my project, they immediately jumped in and said, ‘Hey I want to help!’” said Claire. She also inspired students to become leaders themselves and continue the music club next year after Claire graduates from high school.

By stepping out of their comfort zone and being risk-takers, the girls were able to meet people from all different walks of life. “I have made connections and relationships with people I may not have known if not for Girl Scouts” Grace said. Girl Scouts has given the Genis sisters friendships and a life-long sisterhood. “I am so humbled that I could be part of this organization from such a young age.”

After Claire and Grace graduate high school in May they plan to attend college together in the fall at Johnson County Community College. Claire plans to pursue her passion of playing music and Grace will pursue a career in nursing. The twins hope Girl Scouts who plan to Go for Gold will find a project they are truly inspired and passionate about. Claire says, “The amount of work you put into it WILL pay off! Keep [Girl] Scouting!”

Learn about all 47 of our 2019 Gold Award Girl Scouts and what they did to make our world a better place at gsksmo.org/inspire

Earning the Highest Awards in Girl Scouting

What you need to know & expanded criteria

In Girl Scouting, the Bronze, Silver and Gold Award are the highest honors a girl can achieve. Each award gives girls a chance to identify an issue they’re passionate about and create lasting change within their community!

The highest awards are progressive. The earlier a girl starts the process in their applicable level, the better prepared she is to go for the next level – and the better prepared you are to support her!

As Juniors, girls work together on their Bronze Award as a troop, sharing responsibilities and practicing group decision making.

Troop 3327 from Topeka, KS made comfort kits for children undergoing cancer treatments at Children’s Mercy Hospital after one of their fellow troop member’s sister went through cancer treatment herself. After the troop did some initial research, they invited the sister to the troop meeting to help them brainstorm care package items and make a shopping list. They created five different packages based on age and included blankets and homemade cards in each kit.

Left: Guest speaker talking about her cancer treatment experience at Children’s Mercy. Right: girls making blankets for comfort kits.

As Cadettes, each girl increases her level of responsibility and can work in small groups of one to three girls to complete their Silver Award Project.

In Troop 2041 in Kansas City, MO, three Girl Scouts identified three issues that they cared about. Emma S. wanted more children to experience the joy of art so she created and sold her own pieces to purchase supplies for children at Mattie Rhodes Art Center. Avery W. educated her community on water pollution and how to keep water clean and water bills down, earning her Citizenship award in the process! Andra B. became interested in the issue of light pollution after traveling to a national park and seeing the true night sky for the first time then created a website article and is initiating conversation on the issue of human caused pollution of light.

Left: Snip it of Emma’s flier. Center: Avery selling her art. Right: Light Pollution image on Andra’s article (Photo Credit: chungking / Fotolia).

Then, as a Senior or Ambassador, a Girl Scout is ready to lead a project on her own and earn her Gold Award – the most prestigious award in the world for girls. Each year we recognize Girl Scouts who have achieved this honor and present them with their Gold Award Pin at Inspire a Girl – Expo & Gold Award Ceremony.

Taylor Edwards from Troop 506 in Lansing, KS earned her Gold Award last year after creating the Young Voters Committee at Lansing High School. She worked with her State Representative and History Teacher to create workshops educating her peers on political issues that are affecting their community and it is now a recognized school club that meets monthly reviewing issues on upcoming ballots with elected officials attending as guest speakers!

“Because of Girl Scouts I was able to find myself as a leader not only in my troop or school, but in my community,” Taylor said.

Left: Taylor with Debbie Deere, State Representative 40th Ditto, during Gold Award project. Center: Receiving her Gold Award Pin from troop leader, Carla Wiegers at Inspire a Girl. Right: Taylor in the Buck O’Neil Legacy Seat at Girl Scout Day at the K.

When girls are introduced to and practice the components of the highest awards as Juniors and Cadettes, they are best prepared to Go Gold! However, Bronze and Silver are not prerequisites for the Gold Award.

As of October 1, 2018 Girl Scouts of the USA expanded the criteria for Silver and Gold Award projects to no longer exclude Girl Scouts from being the beneficiary of a Silver or Gold Award project. It is still important for girls to go through the process of identifying and selecting the cause that is important to them. Silver and Gold Award projects should only serve Girl Scouts if the girl(s) decide that is the best audience for their project! Any projects benefiting our council or Girl Scout property will need to be approved by a GSKMO Vice President. For more information, contact TracyHull@gsksmo.org.

The Bronze and Silver Awards are approved at the troop level, there is no paperwork required on the council level once the project is complete; but we do ask that you complete the tracker so we know about your project and can potentially share your story! Upon project completion you’ll want to visit the Girl Scout Shop to get all the swag that shows your accomplishments, especially the Bronze or Silver Award pins!

Beyond sharing your troop or girls’ story with us, help them share it within their community and beyond. On social media use #gsBronzeAward, #gsSilverAward, #gsGoldAward and #gsksmo. If you have media inquiries during or after the project is complete, contact prdept@gsksmo.org so we can work with you to tell the story in those mediums.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program is the United States’ largest youth recognition program based exclusively on volunteer community service and honors students in grades 5-12 for making meaningful contributions to their communities. This is a great opportunity for girls who have achieved earned any of their highest awards to potentially be recognized. In 2017, we had two Girl Scouts receive honors! 2018 applications are due November 6.

Earning these highest awards and leadership achievements is a BIG ACCOMPLISHMENT! We want all our Girls Scouts to be proud and share their accomplishments far and wide!!

Girl Scout Green was the Color of the Day at the K 

Another Awesome GS Day at the K is a Wrap

The 2018 Girl Scout Day at the K is a wrap! Over 10,000 Girl Scouts, friends and family packed Kauffman Stadium to cheer on our Kansas City Royals as they took on the Boston Red Sox on Sunday, July 8! You didn’t have to look hard to spot Girl Scout green, vests and sashes as well as homemade signs and apparel at the K!

The Kansas City Royals made sure that everyone else in the stadium knew that it was Girl Scout Day as well!

Girl Scouts who sold 300+ boxes of Girl Scout Cookies earned 2 free tickets and the opportunity to walk around the field prior to the game! These girls were led by high achieving cookie sellers Rebecca McCreight from Spring Hill, KS, Alma Solano from Independence, MO, Joslin Ungles from Skidmore, MO and Patricia Smith from Leavenworth, KS.

Our top cookie seller (3,551 packages and the top seller for the second year in a row), Girl Scout Brownie Paige Thomas from Lee’s Summit, MO delivered the game ball to the pitcher’s mound.

(Photo by Jason Hanna/Kansas City Royals)

Our second-place seller (2,701 packages), Girl Scout Brownie Emauri Snider from Eudura, KS served as our Captain’s Club representative and accepting a game ball for our incredible ticket sales.

Photo by Jason Hanna/Kansas City Royals)

The first pitch and first catch were completed by 2018 Gold Award Girl Scouts AND top cookie sellers, Tehya Frederick from Kansas City, MO and Kresynda Robinson from Olathe, KS!

(Photo by Jason Hanna/Kansas City Royals)

The colors were presented by the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club from Fort Leavenworth, KS with three of the four members being Girl Scout Alums!

In the Buck O’Neil Legacy Seat was Gold Award Girl Scout and National Yong Woman of Distinction nominee, Taylor Edwards from Lansing, KS. For her Gold Award project Taylor created the Young Voters Committee at Lansing High School. Taylor worked with her State Representative and History Teacher to create workshops educating her peers on political issues that are affecting their community. It’s now a recognized school club that meets monthly reviewing issues on upcoming ballots with elected officials attending as guest speakers.

Girl Scout Dad and troop leader Tech. Sgt. Robert Jennings from Whiteman Airforce Base was recognized in the Salute to Heroes seat!

Prior to the game,  Caitlin Stratmann from Topeka, KS, Zia Montigny from Raymore, MO, Lily Wollum Lenexa, KS and Amara Wray from Lee’s Summit, MO, delivered a sweet snack break to Rex Hudler and Ryan Lefebvre in the Fox Sports Broadcast booth and received an autographed baseball in return!

Haley Guyer from Olathe, KS, Alana Mallen from Lone Jack, MO and Layla Bradley from Junction City, KS officially declared the start of the game by announcing “Play Ball!”

Thank you to everyone who came out and participated in 2018 Girl Scout Day at the K! We want to hear about the memories you made with your girl, family or troop, so be sure to leave those in the comments below!

Want more photos? See all our 2018 Girl Scout Day at the K photos here! Feel free to view, download, share and/or print!

Gold Standard for Change

Spotlight on Gold Award Girl Scout Lauren Ingraham

Winters in the Midwest can wreak havoc on communities. It doesn’t take much rain, ice or snow for individuals to be impacted by the unfavorable conditions. Unfortunately, life must go on and we find ourselves cautiously navigating our surroundings.

For Girl Scout Ambassador Lauren Ingraham, all it took was one Midwest winter in her very own neighborhood for her Gold Award project to be born.

Lauren lives in what was anticipated to be small subdivision in Kansas City, MO. When the road was built, the city didn’t anticipate it serving more than one neighborhood. As the community grew, so did the use of the road, which rapidly became unsafe, especially in winter conditions.  It was that one mild winter storm that Lauren realized that something needed to be done. There were too many cars that had gone off the road and slid into the ditches on either side of the road.

The winter storm and hazardous road conditions that inspired Lauren’s project.

“Seeing these accidents made me want to take action and help my neighborhood. I decided the best solution to this problem was to see if the road itself could be improved because it has no curbs or sidewalks,” Lauren said in her guest blog post with KC Healthy Kids. “The only way I would be able to fix the road was to convince the city of Kansas City, Missouri, to improve them. In order to do this, I would have to petition the Public Improvements Advisory Committee (PIAC).”

PIAC is a group of 13 individuals representing six Kansas City council districts appointed by the mayor and City Council.

While many might find this task daunting, Lauren did not! She got to work gathering data, writing letters and gathering support with the help of KC Healthy Kids. She presented her proposal at the PIAC meeting and received a positive response, including one from of Sara Loar, daughter of council-woman Teresa Loar. Sara was inspired by Lauren’s proposal and coached Lauren through her speech and the process of working with her local government.

Left: Lauren & Sara Loar. Right: Lauren presenting at the PIAC meeting.

Lauren’s proposal was ultimately supported by the PIAC committee and was sent to the City Council where they just recently approved the project and granted funding for the road to be repaired. Construction on the road will start sometime this summer or fall and is slated to be completed by next year!

“Even though I am a teenager and not yet old enough to vote, everyone has been genuinely supportive that I was speaking out for something that makes my neighborhood unsafe. I encourage all kids to do the same. If you see a problem in your neighborhood, speak out and get help to get it fixed!”

Lauren’s Gold Award project has inspired her to become more involved and use her voice in the political arena. She’s now volunteering on a Missouri State senate campaign and plans to be involved in a U.S. Senate campaign this fall!

Civic engagement is one of Girl Scouts’ four focus areas. Through the G.I.R.L. Agenda, Girl Scouts of the USA is providing tools and support to encourage Girl Scouts, like Lauren, to be a catalyst for change within their own communities. The Civic Action Toolkit is available for Girl Scouts of all ages as well as volunteers!

“Because of Girl Scouts I have learned that you don’t have to be an adult or someone in a position of power to make a difference in your community,” Lauren said.

On April 14, 2018 we celebrated and recognized 60 Gold Award Girl Scouts! You can read about all of their projects here!

 

Girl Scouts Shine Bright

Spotlight on our 2018 Beth Winters Scholarship Recipients

Beth Winters was a passionate Girl Scout; she loved camping, traveling and was part of Girl Scouts of the USA’s “Leadership Today and Tomorrow” program as a girl member. Beth was the kind of person who wanted to know everything about everything and she attended the University of Missouri where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Journalism.

Just four years after graduating college, Beth was tragically killed in a car accident.

Upon her passing, Beth’s Mother Joyce Termini and brother Chip began thinking of ways to honor and remember her. With Beth’s passion for continuing education and her love of Girl Scouts, a scholarship for graduating Girl Scouts in seemed like the perfect fit. “This was exactly the right answer,” is how Joyce describes starting the scholarship in 1995.

Over the past 22 years, the Beth Winters Memorial Scholarship has provided 32 scholarships totaling more than $50,000 to Gold Award Girl Scouts from our council. This year, we were honored to recognize three Beth Winters Memorial Scholarship recipients at Inspire at Girl on April 14, 2018.

Emily Musembi, Joyce Termini, Isabella Barnes, Chloe Rothery and Chip Winters

Isabella Barnes

Isabella’s Gold Award project addressed lack of literacy and emphasis on fostering the love of learning in at-risk communities in Kansas City. Prior to the sessions, children would spend time on their phones during Harvesters-sponsored Kid’s Café, only to return to their computers after their meals. After observing a few sessions of Kid’s Café in the summer of 2016, Isabella realized that their time could be put to better use, and could be a catalyst for change.

Isabella worked with the Bluford Branch of the Kansas City Public Library and the Kid’s Café to plan and execute the interdisciplinary literacy outreach program using arts-based curriculum. These bi-monthly sessions will continue to happen and Isabella is currently training another youth facilitator!

 

Emily Musembi

Emily’s Gold Award project addressed the memory preservation and overall wellbeing for survivors of domestic abuse. In many situations, survivors have to leave quickly and cannot take personal items like scrapbooks, art and journals. This program provided them with art supplies to help them express themselves while recording memories and helping them start a new life. For children, the art supplies allowed them to create works of art that could help define their new spaces as “home.”

Emily worked with Synergy Services, local Girl Scouts and a teacher to gather supplies, share the program and plan the events. Her program will be made available to future coordinators who may want to recreate the project through instructions, a video and the supplies Emily donated. She learned to project manage, gather donations and lead a program through this process. She hopes that the project will be shared with other shelters and the video will inspire others to recreate the program. Through art, survivors can find healing and a way to begin a new life and record positive experiences that make wonderful memories and scrapbooks.

 

Chloe Rothery

Chloe’s Gold Award project addressed the lack of awareness about opportunities in science classes and career pathways at Liberty High School. Working with local 8th graders, Chloe set-up a fair for them to learn about the opportunities available in high school and spark excitement about science. She asked fellow high school students to set up booths and talk about their classes and future careers. Many included interactive displays and experiments.

Chloe worked with her high school and Liberty Middle School to coordinate the 8th grade attendees and the fair. Her fellow high school students loved sharing their love of science with the middle schoolers and she found that the excitement translated to the younger students as planned. While most answered “no” when asked if they’d considered a career in science when they arrived, a large number said “yes” by the time they left! She hopes that this excitement will encourage more students to go into sciences for their careers, leading to a more robust STEM pipeline in the future!

Thank you to Joyce, Chip and Beth’s friends and family for making this scholarship possible!

We are excited to announce that an additional scholarship will be available in 2019 for graduating Girl Scouts form our council! This new scholarship is being sponsored by Highest Award Alum and Lifetime Member, Connie Davis and more information will be available soon!

Read how the other 57 Gold Award Girl Scouts are making an impact on our community here!

Interested in learning more about how you can start a scholarship for Girl Scouts? Contact Vanessa Van Goethem-Piela at Vanessa@gsksmo.org or 816-759-3072.

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!

A Sisterhood that Defies All Boundaries

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.

Girls Night Out Participants

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.

Faith as Brownie, Junior and Ambassador!

“[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…