2020 Gold Award Spotlight: Part 4!

Every week on our blog, we’ve featured young women that are big dreamers, dedicated workers, and true change-makers in their communities, the nation, and the world. Continue meeting our Girl Scout Gold Award Class of 2020 from Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana this week to learn about their incredible acts of leadership, courage, and kindness.

Missed out on the other blog posts? Read the rest of the series!

ADHD Awareness

Jordyn, to earn her Gold Award, focused on a subject close to her heart. As someone diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), Gold Award Girl Scout Jordyn wanted to spread awareness by debunking myths surrounding the disorder, offering tips and tricks for coping, and educating her community on the subject matter. Check out her YouTube channel to learn more and watch her videos!

Fellowship Outreach Program

Gold Award Girl Scout Colleen, to earn her Gold Award, worked to connect her community and parish by creating “parish packets” as a fellowship outreach program. This is Colleen’s particular passion because she went to school there, was an altar server, and belonged to the youth ministry. These “parish packets” included items not only from the church but items from around the community, in order to market the parish and draw new parishioners.

“Senior” Prom

To bring the young and the elderly in her community together for fun and connection, Gold Award Girl Scout Quinn held a “Senior” Prom dance at a senior citizen home. With the younger girls, she lead a paper flower and Valentine’s Day card-making workshop, and with the seniors, she presented about pop culture. She helped 36 residents and 32 Girl Scouts connect with one another for her event!

Flower Power

green plants on black metal train rail during daytime

With plenty of research and brainstorming, Girl Scout Kendall earned her Gold Award for her community garden Flower Power, located in a skilled nursing home facility. Two raised flower beds later, residents now have a new fun task added to their days, where they can get outside and moving and feel helpful picking weeds and harvesting vegetables. She incorporated plants that would get the residents involved and attract butterflies and birds.

Spring Social

Girl Scout Lucy earned her Gold Award for hosting a Spring Social dance event for teenagers with disabilities. The event included spring themed activities, like plant potting, picture coloring, carnival games, and plenty of food. Lucy planned, prepared, and supervised the event with help from the faculty and volunteers from her school, and a great night was had by all!

Blessing Bags

To earn her Gold Award, Girl Scout Jilliann collected, sorted, and personally delivered travel size toiletries and basic necessities to homeless individuals in her community. In order to do this, Jilliann worked with a local shelter for homeless individuals in her community, and was able to distribute 200 bags of toiletries.

Stepping Up to Success

macro photography of school bus

“Individuals with disabilities are always aiming to achieve independence,” Girl Scout Therese describes. “One of the last steps toward independence is the ability to travel alone.” It is especially the increased step size of most buses that can provide a challenge for these individuals. In order to help bridge this gap, Therese created a set of stairs that mimic bus stairs for individuals with disabilities to practice on, and her efforts have already seen great results.

The Summer Shindig

In effort of raising awareness for the Hope and Friendship Foundation‘s summer youth programs, Gold Award Girl Scout Victoria hosted a charity benefit event in her community, The Summer Shindig. The event included dancing, food, raffles, balloon animals, and much more fun, and with the help of local business, friends, and community members, Victoria was able to raise almost $400 for the foundation to put toward summer programs for families in need.

Savvy Seniors

“I was grateful to have a close relationship with my grandfather,” Mia shared, and this was her inspiration to address the issue of neglect toward the senior community, provide a safe and interactive environment to stimulate and accommodate them with resources, Girl Scout Mia created a program, “Savvy Seniors,” to teach technology to senior citizens in retirement homes. In addition to weekly classes where she taught residents how to type, compose emails, and more, she also created a website for individuals unable to attend.

DuneLand Micro-Pantries

“Working at a grocery store,” Girl Scout Angelique says, “I see many people on food stamps having to put many of their necessities, like shampoo, toothbrushes, and other things back on the selves because they can’t afford it.” To provide individuals in her community with these necessities, Angelique built Micro-Pantries in her area, which were stocked with basic necessities free to all, so no one has to compromise “hygiene for food, or food for hygiene.”

Bridging the Generational Gap

Girl Scout Tiarra, in order to bridge the gap between generations in her community, volunteered at several nursing homes to learn more about the residents, their experiences, and the history that impacted them. At the end of her research, Tiarra hosted an “Inter-generational Extravaganza,” bringing over 150 people together for an evening of fun.

Busy Hands

Kiley, for her Gold Award initiative, created a volunteer system to create fidget quilts for people suffering from dementia. These blankets, which are covered in “fidgets,” or different tools for them to stimulate their hands with like ribbons, buttons, zippers, and more, are a great help with easing nerves and providing constant comfort. Kiley collected over 35 blankets and they continue being made.

Our Girls are Shining Bright!

We extend our sincerest congratulations to these girls and all Gold Award Girl Scouts this year!

Want to share pictures of your project with us? Post on social media and use the #GCNWIGoldAward! You can also download these images to share your Girl Scout Gold Award pride.

Look out for next week’s 2020 Gold Award Spotlight!

2020 Gold Award Spotlight: Part 3!

When a Girl Scout imagines a better world, it doesn’t stop there. Gold Award Girl Scouts take their visions to the next level, enacting community service and civic engagement that creates lasting, effective change.

To earn the Gold Award, the highest award a Senior or Ambassador Girl Scout can earn, is an incredible accomplishment. We’re giving the Gold Award Class of 2020 from Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana a spotlight: read on to learn about the next group of leaders and changemakers!

Providing Sustainable Menstruation Products

Days for Girls - Heart of Longmont

Gold Award Girl Scout Amelia envisioned a world where all girls and women have equal access to eco-friendly menstruation products—so she took action to make that a reality. To earn the Gold Award, and become a part of the fight for gender equality, Amelia partnered with the organization Days for Girls to create and distribute reusable menstruation materials to girls without proper access to them in her community.

Community Shower of Love

person holding baby feet

Girl Scout Kara received her Gold Award for her project, “Community Shower of Love,” addressing the needs of new mothers and families in her community. In partnership with the Martha and Mary’s Maternity House and local families in need of supplies, Kara impacted the lives of many families and adolescents with newborns by providing basic necessities including formula and sanitary supplies.

3K Run for Children in Need

As part of Girl Scout Muskan’s Gold Award mission, she organized and hosted a 3K run in support of children undergoing abuse or neglect. All proceeds raised at that race were then used to purchase new park supplies for a park in her area for children to de-stress and communicate with each other. She also hosted speaking engagement to address the issue of child abuse and neglect with her community.

Blessings in a Backpack

Gold Award Girl Scout Kaitlyn, in partnership with organization Blessings in a Backpack, sought to supply underserved families in her community with healthy, reliable food over the weekend. Kaitlyn, to earn the Gold Award, brought the national program to her school and provided food for students at Wheaton Elementary School! She was featured on WGN Radio– listen to learn more about her project!

Bags for Foster Care

Girl Scout Morgan’s Gold Award endeavor focused on providing children in foster care with belongings of their own. For her Gold Award, and in order to bring more awareness to foster care and adoption processes, Morgan compiled and delivered 60 bags for children in foster care including toiletries and comfort items for them to keep and cherish. The project continues to be carried on by her Service Unit!

Board Book Drive

pile of story books

To earn her Gold Award, Girl Scout Mia coordinated a board book drive between the Advocate Children’s Hospital Resource Center, the Glenview Public Library, and the bookstore the Book Market, to provide children’s books for the Resource Center. She regularly collected books from the library and bookstore and helped set up a “book nook,” a mobile bookshelf wheeled into children’s rooms at the hospital. Due to her efforts, they received over 200 books in total!

Supplies for Foster Care

Gold Award Girl Scout Lauren, also in an effort of providing resources to children in the foster care system, earned her Gold Award by collecting needed donations for the kids, including toiletries, clothing, blankets, hats, gloves, and flashlights. In her community, Lake County, she was able to reach many kids and provide them with new supplies collected just for them.

A Home Away from Home

Gold Award Girl Scout Elizabeth, in collaboration with Ronald McDonald House Charities, sought to bring comfort to families staying near Comer Children’s Hospital in Chicago, IL. With the help of her community, Elizabeth was able to donate family games, craft kits, and comfort items for families to enjoy. She also hosted a McDonald’s night to educate her community on Ronald McDonald House Charities.

Comfort for Family Court

brown bear plush toy on white surface

Before Girl Scout Alyssa got to the scene, there was no steady supply of comfort items available for children in family court in Chicago, an experience that can be frightening without an object to hold for a sense of security. To solve this issue, Alyssa created a supply chain for comfort items, like stuffed animals, to be distributed to children undergoing family legal processes in the city, of which more than 1,000 kids are seen a year.

Diabetes Awareness

Girl Scout Sydney’s mission was to raise awareness on the medical condition Diabetes. To earn her Gold Award, Sydney created informational pamphlets to hand out to community members, as well as presented information on the condition, how to live with it, and how to prevent it. Her presentation reached over 75 people in her community!

Adeline’s JR. High Survival Guide

Gold Award Girl Scout Adeline took her efforts to YouTube, creating her very own channel and series “Junior High School Survival Guide.” Topics range from body confidence (shown above), social media, friendships, and much more, and Adeline worked with a counselor and CEO of a local youth organization to ensure the channel can be a safe, trusted resource for middle schoolers. Make sure to check out her YouTube channel to learn more about her project!

Strength in Girls

Nikhila, to earn her Gold Award, focused on the empowerment and education of young girls on the subject of mental health. Partnering with the In Her Shoes Foundation, Nikhila presented at several galas and other workshops in order to raise awareness about the stigma around mental health, particularly for women and girls. She has been able to help over 200 girls through her presentations!

The Mark of the Truly Remarkable

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We extend our sincerest congratulations to these girls and all Gold Award Girl Scouts this year!

Want to share pictures of your project with us? Post on social media and use the #GCNWIGoldAward! You can also download these images to share your Girl Scout Gold Award pride.

Look out for next week’s 2020 Gold Award Spotlight! Catch up on the series on our blog.

2020 Gold Award Spotlight: Part 2!

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Gold Award Girl Scouts don’t just change the world for the better, they change it for good. The mark of the truly remarkable, the Gold Award is earned by Girl Scout Seniors and Ambassadors who demonstrate extraordinary leadership in their neighborhoods, nations, and the world.

We continue honoring the Gold Award Class of 2020 from Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI), and this week, we’ll be learning all about the girls whose Gold Awards centered on the arts and interpersonal relationships. Read on to meet these impressive young women!

Mural for Our Lady of the Sioux Prayer Circle

In partnership with the Parish of Our Lady of the Sioux, located in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, Gold Award Girl Scout Clara designed and created a mural for their parish grounds. Working with the parishioners, Clara incorporated Native American imagery and live flowers in her work, all in the aims of creating a beautiful symbol of worship for the people of the parish.

The CURE

Gold Award Girl Scout Elizabeth’s initiative started as a pro-kindness presentation to students at her school and continues as an established school club. For her project, which was awarded a Power of the Children award by the Indianapolis Children’s Museum in 2017, Elizabeth spoke to her classmates, developed a website, and installed a sign in her school. Her project is sure to have an impact on countless students for years to come!

A Lesson in Japanese American History

Gold Award Girl Scout Elyse earned her award by developing a history lesson plan designed to educate high school students about the process, development, and effects of mass hysteria in the United States before, during, and after the Second World War. Elyse’s curriculum focused on the Japanese American experience, and how a single group of people was discriminated against based on fear.

Adding Dazzle to the Special Stars

Gold Award Girl Scout Rebecca saw the need to add some dazzle to the special needs program at the local dance studio Special Stars—so she acted. Rebecca’s efforts to expand their curriculum culminated in brand-new lesson plans for differently-abled dancers, and she was able to teach 8 students in her class on a regular basis.

Standby Project Playhouse

Rebekah, inspired by her own experience as an actor, earned her Gold Award by developing an enriching curriculum for students at Children’s Playhouse. She knew that show directors always have their hands full and that older kids had trouble staying engaged in the program. To solve this challenge, Rebekah created a new curriculum for older students, which is now being used in a new class!

Our War Against Mental Illness

decorative pebbles

Gold Award Girl Scout Monica believes “it only takes a few kind words to have an everlasting impact on someone’s self-esteem.” To spread this message to her community, she engaged them in activities, encouraging others to spread kindness and positivity. Together, Monica and her community painted kindness rocks and positive phrases in her high school’s bathroom.

Puppet Show for Church

For Girl Scout Hailey, getting involved with her local parish in the form of theater was the focus of her Gold Award. Hailey built a puppet theater, wrote scripts coordinated to the day’s Sunday school lessons, and she drew quite a crowd for the final puppet show! Hailey said the best part was interacting with the kids in her parish.

Art for Kids

green white and yellow car print textile

“As someone who has benefited greatly from a strong arts education,” Gold Award Girl Scout Audrey says, “[I] sought to address the issue of fine arts education funding by providing supplies for local Chicago Public Schools.” In partnership with the Schools Count Corporation and other community organizations, Audrey founded Art for Kids, a multi-district wide annual art supply drive, collecting an estimated $5,000 worth of supplies to benefit 14 different schools in Chicago.

Music Therapy Awareness

Gold Award Girl Scout Bailey saw the need to raise awareness about the benefits of music therapy as a form of treatment for people with disabilities, so in response, she created over 200 pamphlets and a YouTube video to do just that. In preparation, she was guided by a professional music therapist and sat in during several of his classes. Every pamphlet of hers was picked up by the schools, libraries, and offices in which she left them.

Middle School Band Promotional Video

Girl Scout Bria’s Gold Award had two major components: the making of a promotional video to encourage elementary students in her area to join the Brooks Middle School band, and leading students and scouts in the refurbishing of the band’s display case. The video continues to be shown in elementary schools to inform students on what brand has to offer, and her efforts have overall improved the marketing of the band to the community!

Project Dandelion

Gold Award Girl Scout Therese knows how difficult it can be to find information about sexual violence on college campuses, and she feels that “everyone needs to feel safe at the school they choose to spend years attending.” Her vision culminated in the first resource of it’s kind, a database organizing information, resources, and statistics concerning sexual violence at colleges and universities in Illinois. Currently, the project encompasses every college in Illinois and is being continued in the future by the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

The Mark of the Truly Remarkable

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The Gold Award is the standout achievement of girls who develop meaningful, sustainable solutions to challenges in their communities and the world. These girls each have completed anything but a one-time service project, but have changed the world in tangible and lasting ways.

We extend our sincerest congratulations to these girls and all Gold Award Girl Scouts this year!

Want to share pictures of your project with us? Post on social media and use the #GCNWIGoldAward! You can also download these images to share your Girl Scout Gold Award pride.

Look out for next week’s 2020 Gold Award Spotlight!

2020 Gold Award Spotlight: Part 1!

The Gold Award, the highest award a Senior or Ambassador Girl Scout can earn, is no easy feat. As any Gold Award Girl Scout knows, the project requires hours upon hours of time, plenty of resources and community outreach, and a lot of heart.

Now, after months of thinking up big ideas, planning them out, and following through, it is time to celebrate the amazing achievements of our Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GCNWI) Gold Award Class of 2020!

This week, we are featuring girls whose projects focused on animal rights, public safety, and sports. Read on to learn all about these impressive girls and their projects.

Power to the Bees

Mason Bees, like the other 4,000 bee species native to North America, are small but mighty creatures that are critically endangered. Girl Scout Shannon from Barlett, IL, for her Gold Award, decided to bring more awareness to the movement toward saving bees from extinction by bringing “Power to the Bees.”

She created a home for bees at the Willowbrook Wildlife Center, and has plans to build another with a display board inside their main building with more information on Mason Bees.

Cage Free Cat Room

In partnership with the People’s Animal Welfare Society of Tinley Park, Gold Award Girl Scout Alicia from Wheaton, IL, created a cage-free cat room. “A cage-free cat room creates a comfortable environment for the cats,” Alicia explained, “and leads to a greater chance of being adopted.”

She built and installed five shelves and cubbies for the kitties to climb on and sleep in, and her project helped those cats and many more find forever homes!

Pantry for Pets

Girl Scout Eileen saw the need for pet supplies in her community of Park Ridge, IL, and in response, crafted her Gold Award plan to fill that gap.

For “Pantry for Pets,” Eileen collected over 500 donations from different collection sites and donated them to a food pantry, eventually serving over 100 people! Eileen then donated the rest of the supplies to a few different animal shelters.

Picture Perfect Adoption

Combining her passion for photography and her love for animals, Girl Scout Marley teamed up with the Naperville Area Humane Society. Marley photographed over 130 pets over a seven-month span, edited the photos, created profile sheets, and shared those photos on social media to help the pups and cats get adopted in loving homes!

She STILL goes every week and takes pictures of the pets, and all 5 “veteran” dogs that had been at the shelter for a year or more were adopted!

Redecorating the Meeting Room!

Girl Scout Sophia from Lockport, IL, in hopes of getting more dogs adopted from the All Herding Breed Dog Rescue, decided to dedicate her Gold Award to refurbishing their meeting room.

She got to work, repainting the walls with a mural of a dog park and adding vinyl flooring, making the room cleaner and more welcoming, a great way to support the shelter and spread awareness for rescue and herding dogs.

Ga-ga Ball Pit

For her Gold Award, Girl Scout Katrina decided to design AND build a Ga-ga ball pit for a park in the Village of Antioch, IL.

Gaga Ball is a fast-paced high energy game played in an octagonal pit, similar to dodgeball, but you need a little more skill. She built the pits in hopes of benefitting the village’s preschool and summer camps. She also hopes it will increase the park’s future usage!

Woof@Wicker

Dog park

Girl Scout Amanda’s Gold Award “Woof@Wicker” consisted of a one-two punch: a campaign to raise funds for new equipment at the Wicker Memorial Dog Park in Highland, IN, and an educational component to teach youth about responsible pet ownership!

Amanda, after welcoming her community to a ribbon-cutting ceremony to introduce the new park equipment, presented her knowledge on pet care to a large group of youth in the area.

The Equestrian Connection

Volunteer — Equestrian Connection

Girl Scout Emma, from Lake Bluff, IL, after seeing the need for the therapy barn at Equestrian Connection to have outdoor activities, combined her passion for horse riding and helping people with special needs.

After researching and planning hands-on sensory activities for therapy riders on horseback, she installed four multi-sensory outdoor games. Equestrian Connection serves riders from more than 70 cities throughout Illinois, Wisconsin, and several surrounding states, so her games are sure to add fun and learning for riders for years to come!

Flight from Threatened Livelihood

Girl Scout Nicole, from Palatine, IL, transformed her Gold Award vision into a reality by building a Monarch Waystation to support one of the world’s greatest natural wonders: the annual migration of Monarch butterflies.

The garden she constructed provides the nourishment necessary to help sustain the migration, with 14 different host and nectar plants that also bring benefits to the surrounding preserve. Her project also included an informational booth on the site of the Barrington Area Conservation Trust.

Bike Helmet Safety for Adults & Kids

Girl Scout Jessica, from Oak Park, IL, has always worn a helmet, but when she learned that not everyone in her community has the same habit, she decided to dedicate her Gold Award to spreading awareness about bike safety.

After surveying 169 adults and students in her area, she partnered with a bike shop and two police organizations and attended two local community events, presenting a pledge for everyone to sign.

Going, Going, Gold!

Girl Scout Seniors and Ambassadors who set out to earn the Gold Award take community service to the next level—tackling issues that are dear to them and driving meaningful and lasting change in their communitiesand beyond.

We extend our sincerest congratulations to these girls and all Gold Award Girl Scouts this year! Want to share pictures of your project with us? Post on social media and use the #GCNWIGoldAward! You can also download these images to share your Girl Scout Gold Award pride.

Stay tuned for next week’s 2020 Gold Award Spotlight!

Gold Award Spotlight: Meet the 2019 Recipients, Part 2!

The Gold Award Equation

80 Girl Scouts + 6,400+ service hours = amazing projects that create impact in our community.

The Gold Award is the highest award a Girl Scout can earn. The Gold Award projects from our 2019 class impacted many different aspects of communities both in Chicago-land and abroad. Girl Scouts created projects that focused on health education, environmental protection, exposure to STEM, child literacy, and so much more. Providing an everlasting effect on communities was something each girl worked hard to achieve and they all succeeded.

Assist us on congratulating this hard working group of Gold Award Girl Scouts! View the photo album and program booklet from this year’s recognition ceremony.

Don’t miss out on meeting the previously featured Gold Award Girls Scouts!
Part One: Meet the first 10 girls (last names A-B) »

Part Two: Meet 10 Gold Award Girl Scouts

Continue to follow along to meet more Gold Award girls throughout this blog series!

DeVonna B.

DeVonna’s project was a series of videos on a YouTube channel she created called S.C.A.L.E. which stands for Sickle Cell Awareness and Lifestyle Empowerment. The videos were created to educate the general public about Sickle Cell Disease, and to give those who suffer from the disease tips and tricks to ease symptoms and improve treatment.

LaTosha Desiree B.

LaTosha created educational videos about living with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. For example, how to check their blood sugar and what to do when your blood sugar is high or low. She hosted two events where girls watched the video and were challenged to make smoothies under 30 carbohydrates. The girls were given hands-on experience administering shots of Insulin and Lantus into grapes. View LaTosha’s videos.

Kaitlyn Elizabeth B.

Kaitlyn created science videos aimed to help fifth graders gain a better understanding of multiple STEM topics in a fun and engaging way. Along with her videos, she created instructions for household science experiments so children can practice STEM using items from around their home! With the help of her family and adviser, she created these videos for several middle schools.

Gillian B.

Gillian built a three-bin composter, hand-washing station, and website with a seed donation platform for an urban community garden in Maywood, Illinois. She worked closely with Maywood community activists—Proviso East High School student volunteers, Proviso Partners for Health, and Chicago Botanic Gardens—to empower citizens and offer support and introduce healthy lifestyle practices in a historically marginalized, food desert community.

Lindsey M. B.

Lindsey’s Gold Award, For the Love of Adler, raised community awareness for the David Adler Cultural Center. In 2019 the center is celebrating the 100-year mark of the estate. For this project she used her love of the arts and talent for research to make professional and educational brochures. She worked with the staff and historians to create a brochure with a timeline, organizational history, biography of Mr. Adler, historical pictures, and the center’s current mission.

Alita C.

Alita’s Gold Award project provided gardening experience that enriched and benefited the health and lives of clients at St. Agnes Adult Day Service Center. She enriched their lives through gardening in a raised bed.

Tiffany Diane C.

Tiffany Diane’s project helped families from homeless shelters receive basic toiletries needed for everyday living. She held a donation drive dinner where more than 250 people were in attendance. This project had such a huge impact on the community that other organizations will be presenting their own donation drives in years to come.

Kourtney C.

Less than half of people practicing in the STEM field are females. Kourtney’s project addressed this issue by spreading the word to girls about how fun and rewarding STEM can be. She did this through planning and executing a STEM workshop for 4th and 5th grade girls, maintaining a Facebook and Instagram page, and delivering information about STEM to Housing Opportunities.

Sofia C.

Sofia created 80 literacy reading kits for children in Pre-K through grade 8 that utilize the Libertyville Township food pantry. She worked with literacy experts, librarians, and her project adviser to create these kits (that contained a book, resources sheet, parent guide, stuffed animal (for the younger kids), journal and dictionary (for the older kids), and fun things like stickers and bookmarks. She will continue her project by creating a three year cycle which the Libertyville Township will take over and fund.

Lauren L. D.

For her Gold Award, Lauren trained her dog to become a therapy dog, and worked with him to receive his certification. She took her dog to many places once he was certified, including nursing homes to help the residents with loneliness, schools to help reduce stress, and a day camp to educate kids about therapy dogs and other types of working animals.

Girl Scouts Highest Awards

Bronze. Silver. Gold. These represent the highest honors a Girl Scout can earn.

All three awards give you the chance to do big things while supporting an issue you care about. You might plant a community garden at your school or inspire others to eat healthy foods for your Bronze, advocate for animal rights for your Silver, or build a career network that encourages girls to become scientists and engineers for your Gold. Whatever you choose, you’ll inspire others (and yourself). 

As you earn one of Girl Scouts’ highest awards, you’ll change your corner of the world—and beyond. The possibilities are endless.

Learn more about earning the Girl Scouts’ Highest Awards.

Gold Award Spotlight: Meet the 2019 Recipients

Join Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana in congratulating the 2019 class of Gold Award Girl Scouts! In this eight-part blog series, we will highlight the projects from all of our Gold Award recipients!

The Ceremony: A Recap

On Saturday, May 18, 2019 friends, family and supporters gathered to honor and celebrate the accomplishments of 80 young women as they officially became Gold Award Girl Scouts. At the annual ceremony, girls received their Gold Award Pin, patch and certificate and were honored by our CEO, Nancy Wright, and Board President, Kathy Scherer. Attendees were also treated to an empowering “Words of Inspiration” speech by Girl Scout Alum and U.S. Coast Guard Commander Zeita Merchant.

This year, each of the girls worked through projects focusing on a variety of topics such as child-literacy, women in STEM, environmental conservation, homelessness/poverty, civic issues, animal rights and more. As a group, these young women spent more than 6,400 hours taking action in their communities all to make a lasting, sustainable difference on issues they saw with their own eyes.

Please join us in congratulating this outstanding group of Gold Award Girl Scouts. View photos from this year’s Gold Award Ceremony in our photo album on Facebook.

To learn more about Gold Award projects, check out the informational program booklet on our website.

Meet 10 Gold Award Girl Scouts

Continue to follow along to meet more Gold Award girls throughout this blog series!

Samantha A.

Samantha started the campaign “#sayno2straws.” Along with the hashtag, she created a website, Instagram hashtag, and promotional video and educated girls at the Bolingbrook Jamboree on the importance of using sustainable products. Later, she made a speech and showed her video to the whole camp to raise awareness for her project and spread the word of sustainability.

Melanie Elizabeth A.

For her Gold Award, Melanie Elizabeth hosted a culinary class for girls in grades 4 through 8. During the class she taught them basic and necessary cooking skills. Putting what they learned in action, she had them practice on fruits and vegetables. She also taught them how to make a pizza from scratch, and finished the class by making smoothies and veggie plates.

Maeve A.

Maeve’s Gold Award project focused on improving mental health education. She worked with Erika’s Lighthouse and Our Lady of Humility Primary School in Beach Park to create a program that could be delivered to 7th and 8th graders preparing for high school. The main focus of the program was to teach girls how to be aware of their own feelings and how to cope with stress.

Kendra A.

Kendra’s project was geared toward helping children undergoing chemotherapy. She created bags centered around making their first chemo visit a better experience for them and their families. The bags provided personal care items, books, toys and positive notes of support, and reached patients in Illinois, North and South Carolina, and Texas. Each bag had HOPE imprinted on them, the acronym standing for ‘Have Only Positive Expectations’.

Zoe B.

Zoe’s Gold Award project focused on community service. She worked with multiple organizations such as Disney, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and local churches in order to obtain food and grooming supplies for homeless people in Chicago. These items were collected in bags and then distributed to the homeless men, women and children in or near Chicago.

Olivia B.

Olivia’s project was all about self love and appreciation. To combat negative self image and social comparison in young girls, Olivia sought to spread love not only in her school, but in her Glenview community using the campaign slogan “You Are Worthy.” She used brightly painted rocks to attract local pedestrians and put signs in various windows with the inspirational message “You Are Worthy.”

Sarah B.

For her Gold Award, Sarah gave back to her church by creating a place for the congregation to enjoy and feel more in touch with God. She worked with a group of volunteers to transform the old courtyard into a spectacular garden and place for prayer or meditation, in hopes of attracting butterflies and the eyes of the congregation.

Amanda Lynn B.

When Amanda started her Gold Award, she decided to focus on homelessness, specifically on the lack of access to education for homeless children. For her project, she started a tutoring program at a shelter in Joliet with a group of volunteers that she recruited. They helped the children with homework as well as played games with the younger kids.

Sarah B.

For Sarah’s Gold Award, she created a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, ART, and Math) event to inspire youth to see the bridge between STEM and the arts. Attendees participated in activities for each letter of STEAM and learned about different opportunities to put the right and left sides of their brain to work.

Mary Theresa B.

Mary’s Gold Award project was a reading mentorship program between local high school and elementary school students. At a local elementary school’s Learning Resource Center, high school students helped younger students with reading curriculum and developing positive, encouraging relationships. Her project was designed to improve literacy and foster a love of and confidence with reading.

Highest Awards

Bronze. Silver. Gold. These represent the highest honors a Girl Scout can earn.

All three awards give you the chance to do big things while supporting an issue you care about. You might plant a community garden at your school, or inspire others to eat healthy foods for your Bronze. You might advocate for animal rights for your Silver, or build a career network that encourages girls to become scientists and engineers for your Gold. Whatever you choose, you’ll inspire others (and yourself). 

As you earn one of Girl Scouts’ highest awards, you’ll change your corner of the world—and beyond. The possibilities are endless.

Are you ready to make a difference in the world? Earn the Girl Scouts’ Highest Awards.

Are you ready to make a difference in the world? Earn the Girl Scouts’ Highest Awards.

Wow—talk about impressive! Girl Scouts everywhere are changing the world in meaningful ways. What can we say? It’s in our DNA.

Bronze. Silver. Gold. These represent the highest honors a Girl Scout can earn. All three awards give you the chance to do big things while working on an issue that’s captured your interest in a big way. Do you know a girl who is ready to be a part of this prestigious group of young women who are changing the world?

Learn more about the Highest Awards, and read on for an announcement about a change in requirements for the Girl Scout Silver Award and the Girl Scout Gold Award.

Attention Older Girl Scouts! As of October 1st, Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) is pleased to announce a change in requirements for the Girl Scout Silver Award and the Girl Scout Gold Award. Girls may now complete final projects that benefit the Girl Scout community. In order to make sure that this change doesn’t dilute the prestige, leadership efforts, or impact of each girl’s project, Silver and Gold Awards must still meet the requirements that are key to taking sustainable action:

  • The project makes a lasting difference in the local community, region, or beyond;
  • The project puts the Girl Scout Promise and Law into action;
  • The project includes provisions to ensure sustainability;
  • The project identifies national and/global links to the girl’s selected issue;
  • And the project inspires others.

This change does not impact girls who have already begun or submitted a project plan, since girls choose an issue first, and then add in the other parameters that will make it sustainable.

If you have any specific questions, please contact Annie Gilmartin, Manager of Highest Awards, the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana.

Video: Girl Scout Gold Award from GirlScoutsUSA on Vimeo.

Girl Scouts Awards $10K in College Scholarships

Girl Scouts Awards $10K in College Scholarships

Six Gold Award honorees from Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) have received a total of $10,000 in college scholarships in honor of their commitment to making the world a better place.

This year’s recipients are Amber Adams-Holecek, a sophomore at Central Michigan University from Chicago; Karyn N. Baldwin, a senior at Illinois State University from Hoffman Estates; Alecia Bell, a freshman at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaignfrom Hillside; Rachel Bennett, a junior at Culver-Stockton College from Hazel Crest; Brianna McCormick, a freshman at Roosevelt University from Oak Park; and Gloria Elizabeth Tabaczyk, a junior at Michigan State University from Hinsdale.

“The Girl Scout Gold Award provides a hands-on experience for young women to take action and provide a solution for a problem in their communities,” said CEO of GSGCNWI Nancy Wright. “By establishing this scholarship, we’re investing in the next generation of women leaders and creating opportunities for them to flourish in college, their careers and life.”

The Girl Scout Gold Award, which is celebrating its centennial this year, is the highest award that a Girl Scout aged 14-18 may earn. Commitment to earning the Gold Award develops skills related to leadership, time management, and community awareness, which set the foundation for a lifetime of active citizenship. The Gold Award recognizes the work of Girl Scouts who demonstrate leadership culminating in 80 hours or more of a significant service project that fulfills a need within a girl’s community (whether local or global), creates change and is sustainable.

More than 20 recent Gold Award honorees applied for the inaugural GSGCNWI Gold Award scholarship, which was made possible by generous endowments to the council. High school seniors who received their Gold Award as a Girl Scout Senior or Ambassador in GSGCNWI are eligible to apply. Applications for next year’s scholarship will open March 15, 2017.

As awareness of the Girl Scout Gold Award continues to grow, so does its prestige. An increasing number of colleges are offering financial incentives to those who earn Girl Scout Gold Awards and admissions counselors view it as a sign of an individual girl’s ability to lead. To learn more about the scholarships available to Gold Award honorees or to donate to the GSGCNWI Gold Award scholarship fund, please visit www.girlscoutsgcnwi.org.

According to the Girl Scout Research Institute’s report, The Power of the Girl Scout Gold Award: Excellence in Leadership and Life, Girl Scout Gold Award recipients receive greater lifetime benefits than their peers with regard to positive sense of self, life satisfaction, leadership, life success, community service and civic engagement as a result of their experience in Girl Scouting, including earning their Gold Award.

Girls have earned Girl Scouts of the USA’s highest awards since 1916, just four years after the organization’s founding in 1912. These awards include the Golden Eagle of Merit, Golden Eaglet, Curved Bar, First Class and the current Girl Scout Gold Award which was introduced in 1980. Over the course of the last century, millions of Girl Scout alumnae have positively impacted their communities and the world with their creative, impactful and sustainable community service, or Take Action, projects.

Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana impacts the lives of more than 52,000 girls and nearly 20,000 adult members in 245 communities in six Illinois counties (Cook, DuPage, Grundy, Kankakee, Lake, and Will) and four Indiana counties (Jasper, Lake, Newton, and Porter). Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place. For more information, visit www.girlscoutsgcnwi.org.

In a Stressful World, This Girl Scout Brings Calm

In a Stressful World, This Girl Scout Brings Calm

Of course it’s always important to remember to take a step back and really think about your actions before acting on them and your words before you say them. Kaitlyn Kropp knows what it’s like to need a minute to cool down. “I have mood swings and so sometimes I’d feel overwhelmed and just kind of lose it,” she says. “It was hard on me, and I know it was hard for other people, too. I wasn’t trying to hurt anyone, though, and I wanted to not have those problems. I didn’t like that my feelings of sadness or fear could take over like that.”

So, like a true leader, this 17-year-old Girl Scout Ambassador set out to problem solve and help herself and other kids facing similar problems. And it turns out many teens are living with these types of issues. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, three out of every fifty teens aged 13-18 are grappling with severe anxiety disorder.

“We used to have something called a ‘processing room’ at school, where kids could go and talk through their feelings with a teacher or a counselor, or write them down. But that’s not what everyone needs—in fact, if you’re freaking out, having to talk or to write something that makes sense can add even more pressure. That was the case with me, and I knew a few other kids who felt the same,” Kaitlyn says. “All I really wanted was an enclosed space where I could be by myself and chill for a few minutes so I could calm down and get back to my school work without having a bad incident.”

To read more of Kaitlyn’s story, visit GirlScouts.org. To stand with us as champions for girls, donate today.

Chicago Girl Scout Gives Back to Baton Rouge

Chicago Girl Scout Gives Back to Baton Rouge

When Mairead Skelton, a 17-year-old Girl Scout from Chicago, learned about the devastating flood in Baton Rouge, Louisiana earlier this year, she knew she had to do something about it.

“My daughter did something similar years ago when [Hurricane] Katrina hit and Mairead was one of the girls who helped her,” said Bernadette Colletti, Mairead’s Girl Scout troop leader. “On the second day of the flood [in Baton Rouge], Mairead asked if she could do something for the kids down there. So I contacted the diocese to see if there was a need and obtained a list of schools.”

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With the help of her troop leader, Sister Girl Scouts, friends, family, classmates and local politicans, Mairead collected more than 6,000 school supply items for students and teachers in Baton Rouge.

“We sent messages to the surrounding communities and churches asking for donations and my parish allowed me to put donation boxes in the back of the church,” Mariead said. “I asked my principal if this was something we could do and we organized a school supply drive. I also reached out to elected officials who represented my neighborhood and they made monetary donations.”

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In addition to the school supplies, Mairead and her Sister Girl Scouts made prayer cards for the schools in the Diocese of Baton Rouge and decorated the bags with either an outline of the state of Louisiana or the state’s symbol, the fleur de lis. In October, Colleti and Mairead drove to Baton Rouge to personally deliver the items during a Mass at St. John the Evangelist Church in Praireville, Louisiana.

“I can’t describe the feeling because it was so amazing and life-changing to meet some of the families affected by the flood,” said Mairead. “My troop leader and the whole congregation stood up and started clapping for me during the Mass. I started crying, I was so overwhelmed.”

After the Mass, about 30 people came up to Mairead to express their gratitude and the principal of St. John’s Primary School, Kim Naquien, presented her with a big poster board signed by the entire third-grade class as a thank-you gift.

“She may have been inspired by us, but truly she is an inspiration to us to serve one another,” Naquin told the congregation, according to The Catholic Commentator.

And Mairead was truly touched by the gesture.

“It was such an inspiration to me,” Mairead said. “My favorite was a little kid who gave me a thumbs-up as he was walking out.”

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And Mairead’s desire to give back didn’t stop there. With encouragement from her troop leader, Mairead decided to turn the school supply drive into her Gold Award project and host emergency preparedness sessions at the Chicago Park District.

“That way, if something like the flood were to happen, people would be prepared,” explained Mairead.

The Gold Award is the highest award that a Girl Scout ages 14-18 may earn and recognizes the work of Girl Scouts who demonstrate leadership culminating in 80 hours or more, dedicated toward their service project.

“I’ve made so many friends over the last 10 years I’ve been a Girl Scouts,” Mairead said, “and there are so many skills I’ve learned — from being a people person when selling Girl Scout Cookies to not being afraid to speak up when people are talking about an issue or doing a project like this to help others in my community and all over.”

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