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…

Going Gold in the North & West Regions

The projects are done, the paperwork is in and excitement is brewing for Inspire a Girl! On April 14 we will honor sixty, (6-0!!!) Girl Scouts who completed their Gold Award Project and earned the highest award in Girl Scouting this year! This is the largest Gold Award Girl Scout class in recent history and it includes nine Girl Scouts from our council’s West & North regions!  This group of young women have spent more than 800 hours giving back to their communities. From creating literacy programs to community improvement projects and educational programs, these Girl Scouts have achieved the highest honor she can earn, the Gold Award!


NORTH

Skylar Clark, Atchison, KS
Troop 8184, Service Unit 801

Train Depot  – For her Gold Award project, Skylar Clark wanted to encourage local children to learn about their town’s history and have fun while doing it! She worked with the Atchison Chamber of Commerce and the Northeast Kansas Railroad Association to breathe new life into Atchison’s Train Depot. With the help of some friends and family members she did some painting at the depot and planted a brand new garden. After that, she hosted an educational workshop for children to learn about trains.

“I feel more connected to my community through the service that I’ve done for it.”


Werthen Gass, 
Trenton, MO
Troop 8081, Service Unit 820

NomNom ReadRead – Werthen Gass saw a need for additional literacy programs for young children, specifically those living in poverty. In her experience, those children were not prepared to become readers because they lacked resources in their life to provide the necessary equipment. To address the issue, she created the NomNom ReadRead YouTube channel in conjunction with the Trenton High School Key Club and Jewett Norris Library. She shared this resource with teachers and got their support to use the program within their own classrooms. To-date, she has 1,144 subscribers to the channel and nearly 1 million views!

“Through this project I realized that some kids never see any print in their homes. As a result, I developed a deeper sense of the world around me and I resolved to give the gift of reading to others.”

 

Latorrie Johnson, Trenton, MO
Troop 8081, Service Unit 820

Recycling on a Rural Community Level – Over the past few years, Latorrie Johnson noticed that the recycling had decreased in her rural town of Trenton, MO. To promote recycling on a local level she collected old bins and repurposed them into recycling bins and encouraged attendees to use them at community events. Latorrie also created a flier and passed it out at the local health fair and ran an article in the local newspaper to raise awareness about the importance of recycling!

“I have developed values such as persistency, determination, to work hard and never give up.”

 


Katelyn Kesinger, 
Atchison, KS
Troop 8184, Service Unit 801

American Flag Etiquette – Katelyn Kessinger wanted to educate her community on how to properly dispose of an American Flag. She worked with the Daughter of the American Revolution to create an education program that taught others how to hold an American Flag Retirement Ceremony and created a brochure that people could take away and refer to in the future.

“I learned that I just need to be more confident in myself and everything will go just fine!”


E’Lizabeth (Elle) Neal, 
Trenton, MO
Troop 8081, Service Unit 820

Preserving Trenton High School – Elle Neal saw a need for the digitization of her high school’s past yearbooks. The district didn’t have the capacity to do the work, so Elle stepped up. She collected yearbooks and scanned the thousands of pages to create a digital version of each one. She then created a website where the yearbooks would be accessible to alumni who are now living all around the world!

“I felt accomplished with the simple difference I made and I will try to continue to make a difference, no matter how little or big.”

 

Miranda Wagner, Atchison, KS
Troop 8184, Service Unit 801

Forest of Friendship; Make It KnownIn Atchison, KS is an International Forest of Friendship that was a gift from the City of Atchison and the international organization of women pilots, the Ninety-Nines that had been neglected by the community for quite some time. Miranda took it upon herself to  not only revitalize it, but create programming around the history of the forest and educate her community. She planted perennial flowers, created fact sheets and an educational scavenger hunt and installed a weather-proof box to make her resources available to all visitors. She promoted her project on the local radio station and held an event during the forest’s annual flag ceremony!

“Through my project I have shown how much one person can impact the world.”

 

WEST

Samantha Hall , Manhattan, KS
Troop 7189, Service Unit 704

Conversation about Conservation – Samantha Hall’s Gold Award project focused on the conservation of animals by focusing on the ways humans unknowingly harm the environment around them. She created a program centered around the palm oil crisis. Palm oil is a common item in household cleaning products that displaces and harms animals every day.  She worked with the Manhattan Sunset Zoo, creating backpack kits that visitors can check out and learn about ways they can easily help with animal conservation!

“I developed a stronger sense of self throughout this project. It made me take charge in ways that I haven’t before, prompting me to figure out how I work with people and the best way to get things done.”

 


Samantha Edwards, 
Sabetha, KS
Troop 7200, Service Unit 714

Birds of Prey Awareness – Samantha Edwards wanted to change the negative perception birds of prey have by educating people on the positive ways they impact the environment and ecosystem. Samantha created a presentation and website with interesting facts, benefits of their existence and how humans can help them thrive. She also created bird swag bags containing bird seed and trading cards. Her presentation and information will continue through efforts of her school and community library.

“I feel that my confidence will grow tremendously because this project showed me that I can speak my mind and that anything is possible of you put your mind to it. I set a goal and I accomplished it.”


Kelly Wichmann
, Manhattan, KS
Troop 7189, Service Unit 704

Bike to School Day
– Kelly Wichmann’s Gold award project started when she realized that her school parking lot was overflowing. She thought about the impact that all those cars had on the environment and decided to create a Bike to School day to help the environment while encouraging her peers to be active. Included in her project was work to update and better the bike racks at her school to encourage her classmates to consider bicycling as a form of transportation every day, not just on one day!

“I know the assertiveness in which I built upon during the project will definitely be of great importance as I move on to my college years.”

 

Make plans to join us at Inspire a Girl on April 14 at the Overland Park Convention Center as we celebrate our entire 2018 Gold Award Girl Scout Class with a hands-on Expo and Honors Ceremony where they will officially receive their Gold Award Pin!

Did you receive the highest award in Girl Scouting?! We want to know! Drop us a comment below or send an email to prdept@gsksmo.org!

Giving Back to the Community that Raised Her

Gold Award Girl Scouts are an extra special group of high-achieving women who are driven to make the world a better place as girl members and throughout their life. When you add “Lifetime member” and “Daisy’s Circle member” to that category, you get an awesome, unstoppable G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)TM! Meet Elizabeth Shyanne Adcock (although she goes by Shyanne)! This amazing Girl Scout not only has invested in her community with a powerful Gold Award project, but is investing in the future of the program she loves so dearly as a member of Daisy’s Circle.

Shyanne started her Girl Scout journey as a Daisy, as young as she could. “I really don’t ever remember NOT being in Girl Scouts,” Shyanne said. She has fond memories of cookie sales, events and giving back through service projects. Most importantly, she remembers the sisterhood she had. “I’m dyslexic, so learning the Promise and Law took me twice as long as the other girls, but when I finally got it down, everyone was so happy. I’ve always had support behind me in Girl Scouts,” Shyanne said.

One of the highlights was her Highest Award projects – all of which included flowers! Her Bronze Award project involved creating flower pots they donated to a local school that are still in use today! For Silver, she helped grow plants from seeds to donate. It’s only natural that she’d find a way to incorporate flowers into her Gold Award! Like many Girl Scouts, Shyanne had several amazing ideas, but hit some roadblocks within the community on what she could pursue. Finally, her prayer garden project was approved and she was able to make a beautiful addition to her town. “I wanted to find a way to give back to the community that raised me, which is why I worked so hard to find a project I could do,” Shyanne said.

Shyanne planted two prayer gardens – one in her town of Missouri City, MO and the second about a mile away one in a very small town nearby. She reached out to community members who donated artwork, garden decorations, lights, a bench and other items to make the gardens full of interesting elements. She even got a statue donated! Now, her gardens serve as a peaceful place for prayer and contemplation for those in her community.

After completing her Gold, Shyanne attended a meeting with her former troop leader, MaryEllen Hughes where the troop was being inducted into Daisy’s Circle for joining. Moved by what Girl Scouts had given her, Shyanne stepped up and decided to become a member that night as well. “Girl Scouts has done a lot for me and knowing that there are girls who can’t do Girl Scouts because of money just really hit me. I feel like Daisy’s Circle is a good place for my money,” Shyanne said.

Now Shyanne is attending University of Central Missouri as a graphic design major and discovering what she wants to do as a career. In April 2018, Shyanne will receive her Gold Award pin at Inspire a Girl and we can’t wait to watch her proudly walk across that stage. This amazing G.I.R.L. is a great example of not only a Girl Scout, but a philanthropist, looking to the future of the program that gave her a supportive, loving sisterhood of girls.  Thank you, Shayanne!

If you’re interested in joining Daisy’s Circle like Shayanne, visit http://www.daisyscircle.org!