Nearly 80 local high school students recently earned Girl Scouts of the USA’s most prestigious national honor for girls, the Girl Scout Gold Award. Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana honored their accomplishments during a special ceremony on June 8, 2013, at the Hilton Rosemont Hotel.
Olivia Watson and Kelly Kachidurian, both 18 of Hinsdale, received their Girl Scout Gold Awards after completing a complex series of requirements, including the implementation of a significant community service project.
Watson earned her Gold Award by initiating “Women Helping Women Worldwide.” Her project aimed to educate and improve the quality of life for women in Costa Rica. Watson created and distributed information in Spanish regarding pregnancy and STDs. To improve nutrition and health of both mothers and children, she also collected and handed out children’s and prenatal vitamins in various villages.
“Traveling to Costa Rica widened my view of the world and helped make me more aware of a beautiful culture,” Watson said.
Kachidurian’s project, “Art Carts,” created a program for youth at two community centers in need. Each center received a mobile cart full of craft supplies, project instructions and a guide for sustainability. Her goal, she said, was to attract children to a safe, secure and creative environment after school.
“Earning the Girl Scout Gold Award is an immense accomplishment which requires girls to use the leadership skills they developed in Girl Scouting to affect positive change in their communities,” said Maria Wynne, CEO of Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana. “These young trailblazers create a legacy of social impact with their projects and learn a lot about the strength of their abilities in the process. They lead by example, and are helping to move the needle on gender inequities in leadership.”
“Completing the Gold Award gave me confidence in my communication and organization skills, both in English and Spanish,” Watson said. “I now know that I can do anything if I set my mind to it, especially with the help of my fellow women.”
The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest award that a Girl Scout ages 14-18 may earn. The leadership skills, organizational skills, and sense of community and commitment required to complete the process set the foundation for a lifetime of active citizenship. Girls complete seven steps to earn the Gold Award, including the completion of a significant service project.
The project fulfills a need within a girl’s community (whether local or global), creates change and is sustaining. The Gold Award recognizes the work of Girl Scouts who demonstrate leadership culminating in 65 hours or more, dedicated towards their service project. Girls complete a minimum of 40 hours in a leadership role before embarking on the final project.
Girl Scouts of the USA recently launched The Gold Award Alliance, a group of women who have earned Girl Scouting’s highest awards since 1916, including the Golden Eagle of Merit, Golden Eaglet, Curved Bar, First Class and the current Girl Scout Gold Award introduced in 1980. Recipients from any year are encouraged to get connected to other award recipients by visiting girlscouts.org/goldawardalliance.
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.
Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana impacts the lives of nearly 84,000 girls and 24,000 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 or call 1-855-ILOVEGS (456-8347).