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Earning a Gold Award is not easy -- but the rewards, for yourself, your community, and your future are worth the effort.

We ask Gold Awardees to give other Girl Scouts who are considering a Gold Award Project a realistic idea of what is involved. Below, Adrienne Spivey tells us about the challenges and rewards she encountered while implementing her project.

Project: Understanding the Early Stages of Alzheimer's Disease for Kids

Adrienne's Gold Award project involved educating children about Alzheimer's disease. She created and produced a video to help children understand changes they may see in their elderly relatives and feel more confident interacting with them.

 

How did you come up with your idea?  

 My grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease when I was very young. I didn't understand why she would do or say certain things. With my project, I wanted to help other kids with the same problem I had.

 

Were you intimidated by the scale of the project? 

 Not really. I came into the project knowing its importance, and that actually inspired me, rather than intimidated me.

 

How did you keep up the momentum for the project? 

 I handed out cards with the link to my video on Youtube at local senior centers, Alzheimer's care groups, and the classes I presented my video to. Teachers at the schools I presented at even came up to me and asked for cards!

 

Were you ever discouraged? If so, what did you do to overcome that?

 Never. I wanted to earn this award more than anything, and I knew how much it would help others.

 

Can you tell us a little story about some part of your project that was special to you?

  Every time I presented the video, the kids would have great feedback. At one presentation, a little girl asked me "How do you join your troop?" I replied with "Do you mean how do you join Girl Scouts?" She then said "No, how do I join your troop?" It was so sweet and touching. Not only had I inspired her to join Girl Scouts, but she wanted to be in a troop with me. It was so cute.

 

How will people benefit from this?  

 Little kids who are confused by their grandparents' symptoms of Alzheimer's will have explanations for their grandparents' behavior and answers to their questions.

 

How did you feel after you finished?

 I felt so proud and that I had really accomplished something great. I truly believe that I've made a lasting impact and that I've helped - and will continue to help - kids confused by the disease.

 

What advice would you give to other girls considering a Gold Award?

 I understand that it's difficult to juggle school, activities, and work, so I understand how taking on a serious Girl Scout project could seem impossible. Think about the difference you will make by doing it, though. Think about the lives you'll change. Think about how you'll be campaigning for something you not only believe in, but that you created. This project may seem overwhelming, and even be a bit challenging at times, but the outcome and the rewards are worth it all.

 

Your Gold Project made a change for the better in your community.  Did it change you

I realized how many kids are going through what I went through. I learned how to talk and relate to different age groups, and I definitely think I improved my public speaking skills. From this experience, I will take away a sense of pride from helping little kids understand the early stages of Alzheimer's, and from earning such a prestigious award.

 

 

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Earning a Gold Award is not easy -- but the rewards, for yourself, your community, and your future are worth the effort.

We ask Gold Awardees to give other Girl Scouts who are considering a Gold Award Project a realistic idea of what is involved. Below, Ann Claire Carnahan tells us about the challenges and rewards she encountered while implementing her project.

Project: Keep Mobile Beautiful in Touch
Ann Claire worked with Keep Mobile Beautiful to create a website for their organization. She used social media and presentations to bring awareness to the public about the services they offer.


How did you come up with your idea?  

            I've always been passionate about conservation of the environment and volunteering for Keep Mobile Beautiful, so when I was searching for a community need that needed addressing, I immediately spoke to the staff of Keep Mobile Beautiful, which is a local environmental not-for-profit city organization. I was expecting to work to develop some kind of educational program or another litter cleanup program, or something of the sort, but they surprised me by telling me that what they really needed was a website. I had never studied web design before in my entire life, but I wanted to help the organization in a meaningful way, so I took on the challenge and developed my project from their, around the framework of a new website.

 

Were you intimidated by the scale of the project? 

            Initially, yes, I was very intimidated. I did not know anything at all about web design and construction, and I did not know where to look to learn about it. But, as soon as I started finding useful research and awesome contacts of volunteers who were willing and eager to help, I gained confidence and became more excited and less intimidated, more eager to work towards completion of my project.

 

 How did you keep up the momentum for the project? 

            Sheer determination. I was in charge of all scheduling and arranging all of the meetings and various steps of progress throughout the timeline of my project, so to be sure that everything was progressing as it should I had to maintain all of my contacts and make sure that my contacts were able and willing to plan and then stick to the arrangements. At times, it was difficult to keep the project moving, especially because I was creating a website that represents a city organization, so I had to work in a professional work place and juggle the staff and volunteers there and their professional responsibilities, along with the busy schedules of all of my other volunteers, which was one of the obstacles that slowed my momentum. But, I was very passionate about my issue and determined to see the project through to the end, so I kept up my contacts and maintained communication to move the process forward.

 

Were you ever discouraged? If so, what did you do to overcome that?

            Yes. Web design and construction is very slow and tedious, and difficult to learn how to do well if you have never worked in that area before. By the time I had completed my first draft of the website, I had put many hours into it and it had been very slow, difficult, and many times discouraging, but I pushed through to launch it onto the internet. And, disaster struck. The website had not been properly formatted, so it looked wrong and uneven and disrupted on different computers, depending on whether or not the computer had a Mac or Windows operating system. I was hugely frustrated and very discouraged. At first, I did not want to continue, because I felt like all of my work had been for nothing. But, I really wanted to help Keep Mobile Beautiful, and I had volunteers helping me with my project who worked professionally in web design and maintenance who were eager and willing to help me reconstruct the website and create a workable format that looked clean and neat on all different types of computers and electronic devices.

 

Tell us about an unexpected challenge in your project and how you addressed it.

            When I launched my website for the first time, it fell into complete disarray. The project that I had been working on for months, for hours upon end was a disaster and I did not know what to do or what step to take to fix it all, because I had been teaching myself how to do everything, for the most part. I could not find any kind of solution, and at first it all seemed very hopeless. But, the contacts who had been my resources whenever I had run into questions about web design and maintenance came to my rescue once more and helped me to solve the problem. And then, what had once seemed hopeless didn't seem to be such a big deal anymore. The website was quickly formatted into very clean, neat tables that were easily accessible on any computer or electronic device, and I could then move into the final part of my project, of advocacy, without a problem.

 

How will people benefit from this?  

            The website I created (www.keepmobilebeautiful.org) is a fantastic resource for the city of Mobile, and it is very easily accessed. For years to come, the website will enable a two-way easy avenue of communication between Keep Mobile Beautiful and the community of the Mobile public to further improve recycling, beautification, and litter prevention throughout the city.

 

How did you feel after you finished?

            Thrilled! I was overjoyed that the website was such a great success and that it is a powerful tool for the organization to use in communication with the Mobile public. I am excited that Keep Mobile Beautiful's need has been met, and that the website will be well maintained, and continue to grow and change over time to improve and help the organization even more, rather than just remain the same. I was so excited to have completed a project that was such a huge challenge, that I never thought I could have done before I pursued my Gold Award.

 

What advice would you give to other girls considering a Gold Award?

            I would advise girls to align themselves with a community organization that already has a need you can work towards fixing. I found that the ideas I came up with, to help Keep Mobile Beautiful would have been useless to them, but they were able to give me a jumping off point from which I could formulate a project that would really help them in the long run. Listening to the organization's needs gave me the framework I needed to construct an airtight, meaningful project. I also had the keep Mobile Beautiful Staff and volunteers there as a resource for me every step of the way for information and volunteer work to help my project succeed.

 

Your Gold Project made a change for the better in your community.  Did it change you?             Throughout this experience, I have learned many new skills and lessons that I know will serve me later on in life as I move towards college and the professional world thereafter, of communication and leadership. Above all else, I have learned how to persevere despite the challenges that arise. When I started, I knew my project was going to be tough, but I did not anticipate just how many different, stressful challenges I would face throughout the process. The project was extremely difficult, but I knew that Keep Mobile Beautiful really needed what I was working towards so I faced each challenge head on and persevered to finish my Gold Award.    

Girl Scout Troop 8454 is a troop combined of 4 schools in the Mobile area, mostly St Lukes Episcopal School.  We feel our success stems from a multi-level approach of opening many doors for girls in order for them to explore the avenues of personal and academic growth outside of the boundaries of school. 

This year we adopted water as our theme.  Friday, Nov 1, 2013 was our first venture to navigate these waters (pun intended!) of how what we drink gets from the atmosphere to our homes, via pumping stations.  With the help of MAWSS (Mobile Area Water & Sewer System) we were able to get a private tour of S. Palmer Gaillard Pumping Station and accompanying Converse Reservoir (Big Creek Lake).

We learned that this pumping station was created in order to serve the growing population of greater Mobile from the 1950's.   The 3600-acre storage lake has 26 miles of shoreline, is fed by 5 creeks and is connected to the pumping station. 

We learned that when the lake fills with too much water, the nearby spillway gates open and release the extra water.  We also learned that after water is pumped into the station, it leaves through 60-inch pipes and goes to one of two treatment facilities to make the water drinkable.  Last, we learned by modeling how different forms of pollution affect watersheds and the area in which we live and play.

This event was a wonderful STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) opportunity because we learned that gravity assists moving water to the treatment facilities (science), the importance of pumps in generating the initial movement to the facilities (technology), the use of dams and spillways to allow or refrain water movement (engineering) and math because we calculated that the 26 miles of lakeshore to be over 450 football fields.

A great big thanks to Mr. Benny White and Mrs. Lucinda Sully at MAWSS for taking their time to teach us about water!

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Girl Scout Troop 8454 pictured from left to right:

Back row:  Tristan, Brenna, Abigail, Maggie, Della, Aleah, Mallory, Devan, Haley

Front row:  Vina, Olivia, Virginia Grace, Claire, Anya, Lilli, and Maggie (not pictured are troop leaders Michele Johnson, Shea Sadler and Julia Winnen).

 

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Auburn Girl Scout

What began as a Girl Scout project has become a source of community pride and participation as Loachapoka residents embrace their new public library and the opportunity to reach out to younger readers in the community.

Thanks to Girl Scout Cadet Kaitlin Connelly of Troop 7098 in Auburn, Loachapoka residents now have free access to books any hour of the day or night at three Loachapoka 24/7 Libraries, located in the small community near Auburn.

Donation boxes are located at Miller's Store and Wilton's Catering (next door to the Loachapoka Post Office), both on Highway 14, and at Crabb's Grocery on Lee Road 188.

Readers do not need money or a library card to access the mailbox-like units and are simply asked to leave a book for use by someone else, if they happen to have one they wish to share.

Connelly's work toward her Silver Award began in June and quickly gained the support of Marcus Crabb, owner of Crabb's Grocery on Lee Road 188, where one of the boxes is located. He and a friend built the first library box that Connelly then allowed children in the 21st Century Learning Initiatives program at Loachapoka Elementary School.

"Every time I told someone about this they were excited about it," Connelly said. "The children were really excited."

Connelly said making the decorations helped the children feel ownership over the boxes and encouraged them to use the books.

"The libraries are aimed to the children, but adult books are also in there," she said. "There are early readers and teen books. Pretty much any book may be in there."

Community support has not only come from the businesses where the boxes now stand, but has also included book and monetary donations from individual community members, plus building supplies from Home Depot and Ace Hardware in Auburn.

The Loachapoka 24/7 Libraries have complemented the new public library which opened just over a year ago and has limited hours from 3-7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. They were recently adopted as a part of the library and use a collection of about 200 books that are also now part of the library's collection.

Loachapoka 24/7 Libraries are an adaptation of Little Free Libraries, which has a site at Cary Woods Elementary School in Auburn, but differ because they are associated with the public library.

Kaitlin, daughter of Brian and Cora Connelly of Auburn, is expected to receive her Silver Award in November.

To learn more, visit the Loachapoka 24/7 Libraries Facebook page or contact the Loachapoka Public Library.

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Congratulations to Katie Holtzcher of Troop 9157, who did a wonderful Silver Award project. 

Katie collected toiletry items and sewed personal necessity kits out of washcloths to hold the items. She made about 300 bags and sent them to an orphanage in Uganda through a foundation called Global Impact. 

Congratulations are also due to Laura Puranen, 9157 Troop Leader, for supporting and encouraging her girls. Wonderful job to you both!

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Earning a Gold Award is not easy -- but the rewards, for yourself, your community, and your future are worth the effort. 

We ask Gold Awardees to give other Girl Scouts who are considering a Gold Award Project a realistic idea of what is involved.  Below, Madeleine O'Mara tells us about the challenges and rewards she encountered while implementing her project.

How did you come up with your idea? 

The Girl Scout Law states that as a Girl Scout "I promise to use resources wisely..."  I thought that starting a recycling program at my school would be a great way to uphold this Girl Scout Law.

 

Were you intimidated by the scale of the project? 

I wasn't really intimidated by the idea of the program.  I did a lot of research and I bounced ideas off of my parents and school principal and this helped make implementing the program easy.

 

 How did you keep up the momentum for the project? 

My classmates have gotten used to the recycling bins and it has become second nature for them to recycle paper and plastic water bottles.  Every Friday afternoon, we go around and empty the bins and bring the recyclables to a nearby recycling drop-off.

 

Can you tell us a little story about some part of your project that was special to you? Well, I knew my recycling program was working when I noticed the amount of recyclables was increasing each week.  One day a classmate came up to me and told me that he had brought his recyclables from his home and that he would bring them to school each week so that it would be recycled and not thrown in the trash.

 

How will people benefit from this?  

It is so much better for us to be recycling materials instead of dumping everything into landfills.  Our environment benefits and therefore, so do we.

 

How did you feel after you finished?

It is great to be finished with the formal part of the Gold Award.  I am still managing the recycling at school and I am anxious for the city of Montgomery to have the new recycling facility available so that everyone will be recycling

 

What advice would you give to other girls considering a Gold Award?

I know that high school can be difficult and it seems like it is hard to find time for everything, but it is important to focus on a quality project and make an impact in your community.  I am very busy and I have the most demanding schedule that my school offers, but I found the time and I feel great because I achieved this.

 

Your Gold Project made a change for the better in your community.  Did it change you?

I guess that I take away from this project that if you put your mind to making a change or helping your community it is possible to do it.  You need a good support system and the desire to see things through.  I like to finish everything I start.  I had previously earned both my Bronze and Silver Awards, so I knew I could do this, I just had to be organized and set time aside to get this done.

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Girls, express your creativity and help us spread holiday cheer by designing the 2013 Winter Holiday card for GSSA.

At right, last year's design was created by MacKenzie of Troop 9157.

The winning design will be used as the cover of the council's holiday greeting card, sent to friends and businesses who support GSSA. 
 
The deadline to enter is Friday, November 8. To enter, fill out and submit this Winter Holiday Card Contest Form with your artwork.

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Earning a Gold Award is not easy -- but the rewards, for yourself, your community, and your future are worth the effort. 

We ask Gold Awardees to give other Girl Scouts who are considering a Gold Award Project a realistic idea of what is involved.  Below, Stephanie Schisler tells us about the challenges and rewards she encountered while implementing her project.

How did you come up with your idea?
At first, I looked around the downtown, comparing it with other downtowns, trying to find something our downtown didn't have that those other downtowns did have. I was going to do a sprinkler playground for kids, but when I examined the cost and possibility of this project being completed in my projected time, I realized it wasn't feasible. It wasn't until I started examining the smaller communities around my school 'til I found a project worth working on - The Dale County Christian School Library.

Were you intimidated by the scale of this project?
At first, no, I wasn't. But, it wasn't until I started getting into the main part of the project when I started wondering what I had gotten myself into.

How did you keep up the momentum for the project
Up until the time I started getting distraught about my project, I really didn't have a hard time keeping up, because it was mainly taking books off shelves, writing letters, etc. When the book organizing, labeling, cataloging, and shelving came into play, I really didn't know what to do except "keep swimming".

Were you ever discouraged? If so, what did you do to overcome that?
Yes, once or twice I got discouraged. The book sorting, cataloging, and shelving really got me. Things were set back several times because something was done wrong. When shelving, I thought the books were never going to end because there were so many.

I just kept thinking that there were only a few more books left to put up before I was done. That and that the project was almost done.

Can you tell us a story about some part of your project that was special to you?
It was during the portion of the project when I was shelving all the books. Many people were so enthusiastic about the library that they kept donating boxes of books. I would get pretty far shelving them and a new box of books were donated. So, I had to move books down - shelves at a time - so that I would have more room on the shelves for the new books. This happened several times during my project.

How will people benefit from this?

·         Fewer detentions from lateness of books should be handed out at school.

·         Students will have higher grades.

·         Students and teachers will have a better time checking out books in the library.

·         Youth going to Ewell Bible Baptist Church will have an extra source of information.

·         Books are the source of knowledge. Students will gain that knowledge provided by those books.

 

How did you feel after you finished?
In a word, relieved. I know that I won't have to go back there and spend all day every day putting up books or something.

What advice would you give to other girls considering a Gold Award?
"Don't give up. Be relentless in your project. It's worth it in the end." My mottos for the project were "The harder it gets, the closer you are to finishing it." and "Just keep swimming!" - Dory from Finding Nemo

Your Gold Project made a change for the better in your community.  What will you take away from this project?
Did it change me? I'm going to have to say yes. This project made a big impact not only in other's lives but also in mine. I am a little bit of a 'in charge' type of person. This project made me realize that not everyone likes to be followers and be told what to do. In rare moments during this project, I was taken out of my leadership position and put in a follower's place. It felt different and was an eye-opener on how others view things, giving me not only the leadership point-of-view but also the follower's perspective of things causing me to have better judgment on telling people how to do things.

I definitely learned new skills. Library cataloging is more difficult than it looks but at the same time easy. You have to order the books on the shelves by last name of the author. After you do that, you have to add them all in to the computer system. Once you have them on the system, next comes the easy part. You find all the barcode labels for all the books. For those books that don't have barcode labels or even ISBN (International Standard Book Number) codes, you make one for that specific book using a ISBN generator. Then, You print off the barcode stickers, find the corresponding book, put the label on the inside of the front cover. Organization and time management are skills that I brushed up on while I was working on this project. Those were used countless times.

What will I take away from this experience? All of the above plus some others. Determination is one. When I go into a book store, much less a library, I have to struggle to stop myself from looking at every last book in there and getting ten of them. Throughout this project, I had to stop myself countless times from reading a book when I'm supposed to be doing something totally different. Another is the desire to volunteer again. I am really happy knowing all my hard work I put into the library will not go to waste. The students will use it. The teachers will use it. Church youth will use it. Everybody benefits.


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Make New Friends and Keep the Old.  In this case my new friend is also my old one. I was cleaning out my closet when I found a picture of my old Brownie troop from when I lived in Prattville in first grade before I moved away for six years. I was looking at the picture, and I thought I recognized one of the girls. I looked on the back of the picture at the names and realized that one of the girls is now one of my new best friends.

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When we were Brownies we did a lot of fun things like being in the Prattville Christmas parade, going to Kamp Kiwanis for the camporee, and going on a hayride. My friend, Sami, had quit Girl Scouts after that year and rejoined after a six-year break from scouting. Now in our Senior troop, we go weekend camping at Kamp Kiwanis and we get to plan our meals and activities. We also work on badges, do service projects, and help at the camporee each year.

            It's a small world and I have had the chance to go back to places I have been before to see old friends again. I'm thankful that Girl Scouts has allowed me to make new friends and keep the old through the years.



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