This year’s Gold Award Girl Scouts are change-makers, role models, and real-life heroes. To earn the Gold Award, Girl Scouts must invest more than 80 hours of leadership, project management, and service to create a sustainable impact in their communities and beyond.
Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana is delighted to share that nearly 50 Girl Scouts have earned this prestigious award by addressing many pressing issues within their communities, such as mental health, poverty and homelessness, environmental sustainability, and cultural awareness.
We are pleased to introduce you to the Class of 2023 Girl Scout Gold Awardees.
Read on to learn more about the awardees by topic of their project.
Persephone A. – The Feral CATastrophe, Persephone’s Gold Award project was to educate cat adopters so they can safely enjoy their new pet. Persephone wrote and illustrated an interactive pamphlet for children whose families adopted a new cat. It prompts children to interpret and respect their cat’s communication and enjoy the new pet in ways that are good for both the child and the cat. Persephone also built two winter shelters for feral cats and two trap–neuter–return insulated boxes, allowing the rescue to continue its essential work when the weather is colder.
Allie K. – Animal Shelter Renovation, Allie’s Gold Award project was to help more animals get adopted out of the DuPage County Animal Shelter. Allie painted and put in new ceiling tiles in their multipurpose room that is used for training, potential adopters, staff meetings, and more. Allie also put in new flooring and trim in the cat adoption room. Since completing the project, countless animals have been adopted and found their forever homes.
Mikaila Y. – Animal Welfare Project, Makaila’s Gold Award project addressed helping an endangered blue-throated macaw, Iggy. By partnering with the Phillips Park Zoo, Makaila gave presentations, created a website, and wrote a blog post to spread awareness and share ways others can help protect this endangered species. Makaila also held workshops for younger Girl Scouts where they created enrichment toys for Iggy.
Art, Culture, and Heritage
Rachel B. – Build Proper Signage and Bring Awareness to the Clarendon Hills Historical Society, Rachel’s Gold Award project raised money to purchase a proper sign for the Clarendon Hills Historical Society. This sign was well-built and will last for many years to come. Rachel also threw an awareness party for the society where many community members were able to visit and understand all the work that the Historical Society does.
Avery C. – Daisy Mural at CPC, Avery’s Gold Award project involved implementing a small team to design and paint a daisy mural, which is their town flower, at their local church. The team painted the rest of the room as well. The town was full of daisy fields before it became a town, and the church’s basement desperately needed to be repainted.
Annie K. – Drama Club Green Room, Annie’s Gold Award project cleaned out her school drama club’s green room to make a more usable space. Annie went through the costumes and created a more cohesive organization system so that the drama club could better use what they already had. Annie also got rid of many old items that were no longer usable. The project aimed to save money for the drama club, create a rehearsal space and make putting on shows easier.
Sydney R.- Seeing the World Beyond Your Neighborhood, Sydney’s Gold Award project addressed the importance of learning about all cultures. Sydney created a website that provides resources to help individuals explore and learn more about other cultures. In addition to the website, Sydney also gave presentations on various cultures and shared her own personal experiences within her culture.
Child Enrichment Programs
Maya A. – CDH NICU Library, Maya’s Gold Award project created a little wooden library for the NICU at Central DuPage Hospital for the NICU’s reading program. That program educates parents on the importance of reading for the baby’s brain development and strengthening the parent-child relationship. The library stores books and all the resources needed for the program. Maya also created an Amazon wish list where others can continue to donate more books.
Sydney K. – Ivywhale.com – Socialization Not Isolation, Sydney’s Gold Award project connects hospitalized or otherwise isolated children with high school and college students to play games, do homework, read, or just talk. By visiting Ivywhale.com, parents can sign their children up for an experience where they can be kids and forget about feeling isolated. Beyond the primary injury, over 90% of hospitalized children suffer emotional upsets due to being hospitalized; Ivywhale.com hopes to help minimize that trauma. Ivywhale.com recognizes that children do not need to be hospitalized to feel isolated. Sydney’s website welcomes any child to visit for an experience.
Emily O. – Fostering Resilient Learners; Educate and Regulate, Emily’s Gold Award project developed a mentorship program at the local middle school. Emily taught a team of eighth-grade students about adverse childhood experiences and different ways to manage stress and negative emotions. The students then shared their knowledge and built connections with fifth-grade students. Before graduating, the eighth-grade students passed their knowledge on to the seventh-grade students who would take over the project the following year.
Megan R. – Crafting Your Confidence, Megan’s Gold Award project addressed psychological well-being in elementary-aged children by working on self-confidence, courage, and a growth mindset. Megan created guided journals and confidence kits for various communities, such as patients with chronic illnesses, hospital settings, foster care, and Girl Scouts. These kits included a journal, cheerful stickers, pencils with affirmations, crayons for coloring and writing, and a stress ball. These items focused on the theme of “humankind,” being both human and kind.
Allison S. – The Healthy Living Club Cookbook, Allison’s Gold Award project was to create a specific cookbook for kids and adults with Down syndrome to provide recipes and tips for independent cooking. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most people had to do remote learning or work from home, which caused many people to prepare meals for themselves or their families. Allison’s project helps those with disabilities learn how to cook at home and gain independence in life skills that can impact their overall health.
Arwen T. – Improving Safety and Efficiency for Equestrian Connection, Arwen’s Gold Award project focused on transforming a storage space from unsafe and inefficient to a furnished and usable closet at a local nonprofit, Equestrian Connection. They work with individuals with disabilities, several of whom are veterans, to rehabilitate them and restore confidence. Their storage closet is mainly used for keeping equipment for their annual fundraiser, whose profits are used to further their mission.
Angelica G.- The New Kind of Adventure Through Reading, Angelica’s Gold Award project was focused on increasing children’s literacy and making getting a book easy and accessible for all children. Angelica gave kids the fundamentals they needed to go through life while also taking them on a wonderful adventure through reading.
Ainsley G. – A Lifetime of Literature, Ainsley’s Gold Award project was to start a program to get children interested in reading, especially in the technology-centered post-pandemic world. Ainsley built the Community Bookshelf, a little permanent library at the First Christian Church of Lansing curated for school-age children. In addition, Ainsley ran a program with the five kindergarten classes at Coolidge Elementary School. Ainsley visited each of the five classes four times and hand-made 100 reading buddies to distribute to the students once they had returned a reading log, proving that they had read 20 books. Along with her reading log, Ainsley distributed books for the students to keep and to begin their reading journey.
Bryce P. – Women in the Workplace, Bryce’s Gold Award project addressed the future of young women professionals. Bryce recorded 24 interviews with women from various professions and created a podcast exclusively for girls to learn about occupations they may be interested in. Bryce published her “Women in the Workplace” podcast on Spotify and shared it with the clubs at her high school and local Girl Scout troops.
Julia W. – LEARN 10 Library Renovation and Reopening, Julia’s Gold Award project was to revamp and reopen the library at LEARN 10 Charter School in North Chicago. Julia provided the kids with a space that held the necessary resources to enhance their reading skills and give them a nice place to learn. Julia also purchased new books that the kids wanted to see more of to encourage them to read more at home and make them realize their love for reading.
Ameenah Z.- Tales from the Other Side of the Desk, Ameenah’s Gold Award project addressed the lack of support for left-handed students and the fine motor and writing differences left-handed students face. Ameenah distributed hand-neutral desks to all of the classrooms at her school to give all students an adequate workspace, and by raising awareness, this project led the school to create a committee to provide hand-neutral desks for all of the schools in the district.
Julianna D. – YouTube Channel for the Elderly, Julianna’s Gold Award project addressed the issue that loneliness is a common problem among seniors, especially those with dementia and other illnesses. Julianna asked student volunteers to record videos of them sharing a talent and posted them on a YouTube channel Julianna created. Julianna also made a website that is easy to use for senior citizens with information about her Gold Award project and access to the YouTube channel. Julianna also shared these resources with several nursing homes within the community.
Environment and Sustainability
Neela C. – Buckthorn Removal, Neela’s Gold Award project was to revitalize a horse trail for a nonprofit horse therapy barn. The trail had been overtaken by invasive buckthorn, which narrowed the trail so much that it was virtually unusable. Neela worked to remove this buckthorn and put in place sustainable methods to stop its continued growth.
Samantha F. – Composting: Reducing in the Community, Samantha’s Gold Award project was focused on composting. Samantha built a large community composting pile in collaboration with the local park district. Samantha also talked to local Girl Scout troops and first-year biology students at her high school and shared a video about how to compost at home.
Kye J.- Native Plant Education, Kye’s Gold Award project increased people’s knowledge about native plants. Kye designed a patch program, a brochure for Richmond Gardens, and started an annual native plant seed donation drive.
Keelin K. – Community Prayer Garden, Keelin’s Gold Award project was creating a community prayer garden for people to have a space to sit, be at peace, meditate, and pray.
Naomi L. – Community Recycling and Conservation, Naomi’s Gold Award project addressed the issue of plastic caps that are improperly disposed of and cause harm to animals and the environment. Members of the community helped Naomi collect plastic caps to recycle into a bench through the ABC Promise Partnership recycling program at Plainfield North High School. Naomi also mentored Drauden Point Middle School National Junior Honor Society by helping them start their own recycling program.
Siara P. – Recycling Campaign and Signage Installation, Siara’s Gold Award project was a three-part effort to reduce the amount of contaminated recycling within the community. The first part of the project was to design and spread infographics about recycling, focusing on the economic and environmental benefits of recycling. The second portion of the project was to design and implement signage at a popular picnic park within the community. The final component of the project was to lead a clean-up of the project.
Lauren S. – Riverside Triangle Park Improvement, Lauren’s Gold Award project aims to improve a local triangle park area, which acts as an entrance to the community. Lauren cleared the area of all the weeds and invasive species, which were choking the base of the mature trees and blocking visibility to oncoming traffic and pedestrians. Lauren also organized a date and volunteer group to plant the native plants. Additionally, Lauren included six tree tags to educate residents about native species.
Jessica B. – Paperbacks for Patients, Jessica’s Gold Award project worked with Pediatric Therapy Centers to provide books for the Lending Library to ease stress and anxiety before and after their therapy sessions. Additionally, Jessica worked with her church to host a mental health awareness night. It mainly targeted youth and educated them about resources and support they can access.
Katelin G. – Wellness on a Budget, Katelin’s Gold Award project was to provide healthy and nutritious meals for low-income families. Katelin ensured that all the meals could be made with ingredients that are cheap and easy to get ahold of. Additionally, a licensed nutritionist approved all of Katelin’s recipes.
Serena G. – Law Enforcement Teen Support, Serena’s Gold Award project aimed to educate teens who have a parent in law enforcement. Serena did this by creating a network where they can feel connected to others and a place where knowledge about mental health issues within law enforcement is accessible and easy to understand.
Tara G. – Entertainment TaraVision, Tara’s Gold Award project addressed the issue of patients feeling isolated while at the hospital. Tara provided trivia games, activities, and supplies for the hospital to help keep patients engaged and entertained while receiving treatment.
Delaney G. – Sensory Box, Delaney’s Gold Award project focused on mental health in students. Delaney noticed that kids are often stressed about finals and everyday life. Having a sensory box can help kids relax and give them a break from their responsibilities for a little bit. Delaney created the sensory boxes as a tool to help educate and provide ways to achieve better mental health.
Lily K. – Mindful in the Middle: A Guided Journal, Lily’s Gold Award project addressed students’ mental health as they transition from elementary school to middle school. Lily designed, wrote, and printed a guided journal to help students work through their emotions and thoughts as they continue on a new path.
Grace K. – Bridging the Gap, Grace’s Gold Award project addressed the mental health of incoming high school students. Grace gave an oral presentation, supplemented by an interactive online presentation with resources to help first-year students cope with their emotions, create positive relationships, and manage their mental health.
Katherine M. – Comfort Pillows and Pamphlets for Breast Cancer Patients, Katherine Gold Award project involved creating mastectomy comfort pillows to ease a patient’s pain and discomfort while riding in the car during recovery. The pillows clasp around the seatbelt, providing a cushioned barrier to protect the chest and prevent irritation post-surgery. Katherine also created a tutorial video for anyone who wants to learn the pillow-making process.
Ashley R. – Healthy Foundations, Ashley’s Gold Award project involved creating and implementing a health curriculum to be used in primary education. Working with a local gym teacher, Ashley gathered various resources and materials to build a fun and engaging program to teach kids the basics of a healthy lifestyle.
Julianna S. – Don’t Worry It’ll Be OK, Julianna’s Gold Award project spreads awareness about mental health issues and their symptoms and signs, but in words that teens going through a tough time can understand. Julianna also made a website saying all of these feelings are okay, some quick tips on how to help self-love, and resources to forward to the teens to help.
Mariam S. – Eating Disorders Awareness, Mariam’s Gold Award project raised awareness about different eating disorders, their causes, symptoms, and what others can do to help people affected by an eating disorder. Mariam also discussed the HAES (Healthy At Every Size) concept to emphasize that people can have different body sizes and be healthy. Mariam taught people about these concepts through presentations where the audience was middle or high school students. Mariam also created a website for this information, so it is available to anyone who wants to learn about eating disorders.
Hannah W. – Autism Baskets, Hannah’s Gold Award project helped their community by making sensory kits for the local schools. Hannah put together different textured toys, fidgets, and colored and textured pasta. The schools put these kits to good use, and the teachers absolutely loved them!
Bella Z. – One Stitch at a Time, Bella’s Gold Award project intertwined mental health coping skills and knitting. Bella created a booklet that described beginner knitting steps and related each of those steps to a certain coping skill for anxiety and depression. Bella hosted learn-how-to-knit events at two libraries and created a public YouTube channel and blog where she posted knitting steps and coping skills to increase awareness of art therapy.
Elise G. – Sharing Minority Stories Through a Podcast, Elise’s Gold Award project created an interview-style podcast to discuss minority experiences in predominately white spaces. Elise explored a variety of issues, such as the model minority myth, affirmative action, and the thin blue line controversy from the unique perspectives of minorities within predominately white communities. Elise took this opportunity to share these overlooked experiences and created a community that understands the nuances associated with racial identity.
Margaret C. – The Cookie Bake Off, Margaret’s Gold Award project was a Girl Scout community event geared towards older Girl Scouts during cookie season. This event aimed to help keep older girls involved in Girl Scouts by showing there are fun events for girls their age.
Ava M. – We Dine Together Club, Ava’s Gold Award project created a club that focuses on ensuring everyone at her high school feels like they belong and are included. The club’s mission is to ensure no one eats alone at lunch and facilitate monthly outreach activities for the school. Going back to school after the pandemic showed how much people struggled with feeling alone, so having people to sit next to and events to attend helped build the school community back up.
Amanda S. – Go Outdoors to Grow Outdoors, Amanda’s Gold Award project addressed the issue of indoor isolation and the importance of getting outside for physical and mental health. Amanda created a website that includes an I-Spy scavenger hunt, a did-you-know nature guide, and a personal goals pledge to encourage participants to continue to get out in nature and commit to doing something good for nature. As people learn more about nature, they are likely to take the time to enjoy it more, care for nature, feel interested, and feel good about themselves.
Frances D. – It’s a Female Thing, Frances’ Gold Award project aims to address the issue that women living in poverty or who are homeless do not have access to sanitary products. Frances contacted women’s organizations and their community for donations to fill the shelves at four food pantries to see if there was a need. The response was overwhelming. Because of Frances’ efforts, these products will now become a regular on the food pantry’s shelves.
Kyla H. – Period Poverty, Kyla’s Gold Award project focused on period poverty, a significant issue that mainly affects homeless women who don’t have access to or the means to buy menstrual products. Kyla’s project addressed this issue by bringing awareness to the problem and providing the means for women to get these products.
Lillian S. – Upgrade Family Promise Rooms, Lillian’s Gold Award project supported Family Promise, an organization that provides shelter, food, and an opportunity to regain employment through its program. Lillian’s project made their family rooms more functional and organized. These improvements gave the children a safe and comfortable space to play and study while keeping their entire family unit together. The improvements also provided a clean, safe space for everyone to socialize, work, get ready, and more.
Kyra D. – Kidz Play Expansion Project, Kyra’s Gold Award project helped to give underprivileged kids better access to extra-curricular clubs, sports, and activities. In 2014, Kyra created a nonprofit organization called Kidz Play to help tackle this issue, but as the years went on, Kyra struggled to expand Kidz Play outside her small town. Through her Gold Award project, Kyra grew Kidz Play throughout the state and beyond!
Jessica M. – The Golden Arrow Archery Range, Jessica’s Gold Award project built and created an archery range in Des Plaines, IL, on the property of the Society of the Danube Swabians and will be utilized by Girl Scouts Service Unit 404. The project provided two archery targets, an arrow net, two structures to hold up the net, eight compound bows, 100 arrows, and eight forearm shields. Girl Scout leaders obtained Level 1 Certification Archery Training to teach the Girl Scouts the sport of archery, and troops within Service Unit 404 will enjoy learning and playing archery for years to come. Through learning and playing archery, girls will improve their self-confidence and carry these lessons into their everyday lives.
Katherine L. – Information is Queen, Katherine’s Gold Award project addressed the communication and access to information issues her service unit faced. Katherine created an instruction manual and YouTube channel to help the service unit managers make updates to the website. Katherine went on to create lesson plans and resources for the service unit to use and even taught a web design class for younger Girl Scouts.
Congratulations to this impressive list of Girl Scouts.
We are eager to see how their Gold Award projects continue to live on throughout and even after their involvement in Girl Scouts.
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Take a look at the photo gallery below from the 2023 Gold Award Ceremony, which took place on June 24, 2023.