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Morgan's gold award project focused on the lack of educational encouragement, positivity, and general public knowledge of Taylor Park. She collected donations, researched ways to promote positivity in the classroom, painted the room, downloaded new educational software on the computers, and spread the word about Taylor Park throughout the Mobile community, the nation, and the world

We interview all Gold Award recipients, asking them to tell us more about their personal journey, to give other girls an idea of how it feels to go through the Gold Award process. 

How did you come up with your idea?  

After meeting with the teachers and the head of the community center, my heart went out to these children who had only Taylor Park as a safe place to go after school and their classroom was a place that didn't have the resources to encourage further schooling past middle and high school or promote positive living.

 

Were you intimidated by the scale of the project? 

I've led and participated in more service projects than I can count, but one of this caliber was definitely intimidating.

 

 How did you keep up the momentum for the project? 

It was absolutely difficult to keep up with the work load of senior year of high school, graduation, and a gold award project, but whenever the work load got to the point where I considered quitting, I thought about those kids and their situation and I got motivated to continue.

 

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

I was definitely discouraged at points. Whenever problems would arise, I felt like the project was never going to be finished. But my passion is education for all, and when I grew up I wanted to make a difference in the world and in the lives of children. So I asked myself what defines you as 'grown up'? When you have bills, when you have kids, when you get married, when you begin your career? When? I realized I didn't have to wait for all of those things to happen before I was able to start making a difference in this world. I was starting with these kids at Taylor Park.

 

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

The most touching part of my project was at the end of the open house while I was packing up the left over water bottles, this little girl came up to me and asked if she could take some waters home since she doesn't have any water at home. I then helped her stuff her little backpack full of water bottles and she went on her way. That moment just touched me and showed how lucky I am to have all that I do, and I truly hope that my project made a positive impact in her life.

 

How will people benefit from this?  

People will benefit from my project in numerous ways. The immediate impact of enhancing the room created an atmosphere where the kids could be encouraged to continue not just their school work, but to also lead a more positive life. My project also helped to spread the word about the community center and how to get involved which will help to increase Taylor Park's volunteer sources.

 

How did you feel after you finished?

I felt extremely accomplished when I finished the project. It was a sense of relief and elation that I was done and that I actually completed something of such caliber.

 

What advice would you give to other girls considering a Gold Award?
Going for your Gold Award is definitely hard work. It's not easy, but if it was, then the award wouldn't mean anything once you earned it. During your project, you'll question yourself and ask "Is this really worth it?" and the answer is yes. You may not think so at that point, but trust me, once you complete something that actually makes a difference in your community and beyond, you'll question why you didn't do it sooner!

 

Your Gold Project made a change for the better in your community.  Did it change you?
It made a change to my outlook on my own life. Seeing the problems that this poor community faced, it made my everyday problems seem like blessings. I took away leadership skills, organizational skills, and I definitely learned how to manage my time better!

 

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My name is Gabriella, and I'm a Cadette in Troop 8645 in Mobile. I have been a Girl Scout for almost five years, and in all that time, I still have not tasted a Girl Scout cookie. All of that will change this cookie season.

Four years ago, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, which is an Auto-Immune Disease that causes my body to attack gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, spelt, rye, malt, and some oats. These attacks lead to damage on the villi, small fingerlike projections that line the small intestine and promote nutrient absorption. When the villi get damaged, nutrients cannot be absorbed properly into the body. Celiac disease is hereditary, meaning that it runs in families. It is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people.  

Currently, the only treatment for celiac disease is by sticking to a strict gluten-free diet. So for me, that means I am unable to eat things that my friends eat, like donuts, pizza and cookies that contain gluten. It is hard sometimes to watch others eat snacks and treats that I am unable to eat. But this cookie season all that will change. Our council will be getting a shipment of gluten-free Girl Scout cookies! I'm really excited about these new cookies. I can't wait for cookie season to start so I can say I ate a Girl Scout Cookie. I hope they sell well so we can get them again next year. 

press-rep-claire.jpgLast week, Press Rep Mary Virginia, Ambassador Girl Scout Courtney, and I went to the Rally in the Alley in downtown Montgomery.  

Rally in the Alley was the River Region United Way's kick off for their fall campaign.  We were able to walk around handing out Girl Scout cookies and asking women if they had ever been a Girl Scout.  If they said yes, we would interview them.  Something interesting I learned during those interviews is that a lot of people said the most valuable lesson they learned in Girl Scout was to never give up.  

Not only were we able to meet a lot of former Girl Scouts, we also got to meet the Mayor of Montgomery, the AUM Chancellor, and the AUM Athletic Director.  We also talked to representatives from other United Way agencies and got some ideas for service projects for our troops.  

It was a great turnout and a lot of fun.

-- Press Rep Claire
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Rebecca Pober Citrin produced, directed, edited and screened a professional documentary on domestic human sex trafficking, which can be seen on the website she created:againsthumantrafficking.com.

In order to create her documentary, she made contacts, fundraised, conducted on and off-camera interviews.  Afterwards, she has given and continues to give presentations to highlight this issue.

We interview all Gold Award recipients, asking them to tell us more about their personal journey, to give other girls an idea of how it feels to go through the Gold Award process. 

How did you come up with your idea?
I saw the issue in a newspaper and noticed how unaware of it my friends, family and community are.

Were you intimidated by the scale of the project?
At some points, yes.  My project grew very quickly, and it was hard to keep up with the expenses.

How did you keep up the momentum for the project?
I kept  in touch with all of the contacts reaching out to me. Organization was key.

Were you ever discouraged? If so, what did you do to overcome that?
Yes, when I had issues with my initial editor.  I kept at it and never gave up.

Can you tell us a story about some part of your project that was especially meaningful?
I started crying during one of the interviews with a victim because her story was so sad. She told me that I had no right to cry because I didn't know the pain she felt.  She said that I had to be strong if I wanted to fight against this issue and had to be able to show sympathy towards the victims without showing emotion. Victims already have to deal with so much and it makes them feel worse when people show emotions from their stories; non-victims have no idea what the victims went through because they didn't experience it themselves.  It was a shocking experience, but it taught me a lot. I never cried again, no matter how sad the stories I heard were.

How will people benefit from this?
They will be aware of human trafficking and know that it IS happening in their community and that it can happen to ANYONE. Hopefully, people will be more cautious and have their eyes open all the time for potential predators.

How did you feel after you finished?
Ecstatic. I couldn't wait to get the documentary out there.

What advice would you give to other girls considering a Gold Award?
DO IT. You will learn so much about yourself and make a difference in your community. It is very rewarding.  START EARLY, 9th grade ideally. I was surprised by how long everything took, especially the proposal process. Gold Awards take time, but they are well worth it.

How did your Gold Project change you?
I've learned more from my Gold Project than I have from any other project, program, or class.  It definitely changed me. Just the issue of sex trafficking required me to grow up a lot. The adults I interviewed were victims, parents of victims, law enforcement officers, a state representative, etc. As a teenager who had never interviewed anyone before, I had to quickly learn to conduct professional interviews. I worked with adults, organized, scheduled, raised funds, was a producer, director and editor, and made presentations. I learned MANY new skills, from ow to professionally edit video to becoming a better public speaker.

I'll take away more maturity, countless skills, and several life lessons from my Gold Award process.

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Press Rep Gabby appeared on the Studio Ten program on Fox 10 TV.  She did an amazing job explaining the fun and benefits of Girl Scouting!  Thanks for representing Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama so well, Gabby!

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Does your troop love Girl Scouting?  Show the world why and how! 

Create a 15-30 second video using the electronic device of your choice.  Be as creative as you like!  Use props, costumes, whatever helps you express how and why you love Girl Scouting!  

Send your video by August 31 to  communications@girlscoutssa.org.  The winning video will be chosen based on creativity and clarity of message.

This is a great opportunity to put your heads together for a fun project, and the winning troop will have a pizza or ice cream party!  

(Please note --  this contest is open to troops registered in Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama council only.  It is also open to individual members who are registered as Juliettes in GSSA). 

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Please give an overview of your Gold Award Project.

 

The issues I chose to address through my project were promoting the arts to high school students, especially though who do not have access to theatre at their schools, and promoting Playhouse-in-the-Park, an available theatrical resource that fewer high school students have been taking advantage of lately, to middle and high school students. After having my idea approved by my project advisor at Playhouse, I worked on my proposal paperwork and edited it until I felt it was ready to submit. I had to take more time to brainstorm and problem solve after receiving some corrections that the Gold Committee felt were necessary for me to work out before moving on with my interview. Once I completed my revisions and my proposal interview, I was ready to begin implementing my project

 

How did you come up with your idea?  

 

I love acting and participating in the arts, so from the beginning I was set on doing a project that would be centered around the arts somehow. I also wanted to help out Playhouse-in-the-Park, a local youth theatre where I spent most of my high school career acting and dancing. It took me a long time to come up with a feasible idea. Initially, I kept getting stuck on ideas that just weren't possible, like buying new lights for Playhouse. Eventually, I began to work with an idea of holding a community-wide talent show at Playhouse for any interested students. I sat down with my advisor to work out the remaining details and issues, which caused us both to realize that this project would probably be too risky and too hard to complete within my limited time frame. It was then that we modified this idea into that of holding a theatre arts seminar rather than a talent show.

 

Were you intimidated by the scale of the project? 

 

I was very intimidated initially; I had trouble imagining myself actually getting through eighty hours' worth of work to be done! After I finally got through the planning process and the proposal paperwork and interview, I felt less daunted and ready to get to work. 

 

 How did you keep up the momentum for the project? 

 

Setting deadlines helped me the most when it came to keeping the project going. As soon as my project was approved, I set a date for the theatre arts seminar and began calling the various schools I would be presenting to so that I could set an appointment to speak to their students. By doing this at the beginning, I felt motivated to set aside time to work on everything that needed to be done before these dates arrived. When it finally came time to make my presentations and hold the seminar, I felt very prepared. 

 

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

 

There were many moments throughout the process when I felt discouraged. Sometimes it was when I was in the very early stages of my project and felt I simply couldn't get everything done before the deadline in July, and other times it was when I faced serious obstacles that would randomly pop up during the process. I always felt tempted to quit, but I knew that I would be disappointed in myself if I didn't keep pushing onwards. While it might have been a relief to quit in the midst of all the other things I had going on in my senior year, I knew that in the long run I would regret never finishing my project out. I had gotten my Bronze and Silver Awards as a younger scout, so I also felt motivated by the idea that there would be no better way to tie up my final moments in Girl Scouts than by getting the Gold Award.

 

 

Can you tell us a little story about some part of your project that was special to you? Something funny, or touching, or that went terribly wrong and how you fixed it?

 

I'm very happy with how the seminar went, not only because the participants all responded positively about their experience but because they all had such a great time with one another. Most of them were all strangers upon arriving, but by the time they left, they were all laughing loudly and seemed much closer than people who had just met 3 hours ago. Going into the seminar, I was mainly hoping for a good turnout and positive responses from the participants, but I was so delighted by this unexpected result.

 

How will people benefit from this?  

 

Through this project, I managed to reach at least 500 high school students in the area about the arts and local theatre opportunities that are open to them, and I managed to leave 12 students with new artistic knowledge and skills that they might not have had otherwise. Through this project, I have also begun what I feel will be the reestablishment of awareness of the opportunities offered by Playhouse-in-the-Park in middle and high school students, many of whom were unfamiliar with the community theatre before my presentations and/or my seminar. I also hope that my project will encourage more girls to pursue completing a Gold Project focused on the arts.

 

How did you feel after you finished?

 

It felt amazing to be done with my project! It was so satisfying to have stuck it out to the end and to have had what I felt was a satisfying ending to my project. It's nice to leave this project with a sense of accomplishment.

 

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

 

You've all probably heard this before, I know I did when the opportunity to begin my Gold Award opened up, but my biggest piece of advice would be to complete your project at some point in your high school career that isn't your senior year! With all of the school work you have when you're a senior coupled with applying for college, adding a project as big as the Gold Award to your To-Do list is a major stress! I managed to work in small tasks relating to my project throughout my senior year, but it really wasn't until I had breaks from school (or was finally out of school) that I really managed to get work done. Had I been able to get more work done earlier, I would've been able to hold the seminar earlier, while school was still in session, and would most likely have been able to encourage more students to participate. Regardless, I'm proud of my hard work and what I managed to accomplish within the timeframe I had.

 

Your Gold Project made a change for the better in your community.  Did it change you?  If so, how?  Did you learn new skills, or change your outlook on an issue?  What will you take away from this experience?

 

I was never much of a leader during my high school career, so my Gold Project was my first real opportunity to be in charge of something and lead others. In the beginning stages of my project, I was insecure in this position of leadership, which could lead to miscommunication and other added issues. As my project progressed, though, I began to find more confidence in this new role. While I still have my moments of insecurity, I do feel that my Gold Project has been a source of newfound confidence that I wouldn't have at this point in my life otherwise.

 

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Susan was a GSSA Press Rep in 2013-14.  She LOVED camp then, and she still does!  She kindly contributed this blog entry with her thoughts on the camp experiences this summer.

Every summer, I get to enjoy an amazing week of hiking, singing, swimming, canoeing, banana boating, kayaking, zip lining, camping, archery, and meeting amazing new friends.

Where do I do all these amazing activities? Kamp Kiwanis, of course!  Kamp Kiwanis is located in Eclectic, Alabama on the beautiful Lake Martin.  I have been going every summer for the past four years!  My favorite part of camp is always going to be meeting new people.  My first year I even met one of my best friends!  

Camp is an amazing place to make memories!  One of my favorites is sleeping out under the stars one night, outside of the tents.  Another would be trying sushi for the first time.  If you are looking for something exciting to do next summer, camp is definitely the place to go!

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Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama is opening applications for 2014-2015 press reps! 


This past year's press reps had so many fun and exciting opportunities, such as TV time, PSAs, videos, radio spots, and billboards -- all for cookies and membership.  


They also starred United Way and social media ads, reading the pledge and prayer at the State House for Girl Scout Advocacy Day, writing articles for the Girl Blog, and delivering cookies and press releases to local media outlets.


You don't need any experience being in front of a camera -- just an interest in sharing your enthusiasm for Girl Scouts!

 

If you are a Girl Scout who would be interested in this exciting position, please have them turn in an application with requested materials by June 13 to Meghan Cochrane, Director of Public Relations and Marketing at mcochrane@girlscoutssa.org.


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Troop Leader Karla Bishop explains the project: 

We put a letter to our neighbors explaining our project and purpose (raising awareness for Shaken Baby Syndrome) on a paper bag along with a flyer so they could educate themselves and others and asked them to fill the bag with brand-new baby items. We set out 200 bags. We went back the next week and collected 40 bags filled with items such as diapers, wipes, pacifiers, clothing and socks, booties, toys, personal care items and more! 

We then sorted through all the items and decided what else we needed to buy. With cookie money, I purchased 100 polyester baby bags, along with baby books, blankets, and travel size Johnson and Johnson care kits to fill the rest of the bags. A kind person whose great-niece recently died of shaken baby syndrome delivered a bag of hand-knitted purple beanie hats and another mom in our troop knitted some as well (purple is the chosen color for Shaken Baby Syndrome awareness). 
We kept out some money to give each of the girls cash to shop for baby items of their choice at Target (and I stood at the register to collect all change). This awesome mall trip also allowed us to complete our Savvy Shopper badge. 

The girls sorted through all final items, stuffed the bags, folded the letters and fliers to put into the bags and tagged them all either boy, girl or neutral. We then took 50 of the bags to Springhill Medical Center (where a wonderful nurse told the girls how many lives they could potentially have saved by doing this project) and took the other 50 to USA Women's and Children's hospital. 
 
 I am glad they all learned about Shaken Baby Syndrome but I suspect they also learned how you can make a tremendous impact in the world no matter what age you are. They really enjoyed this project. 
 

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