This past spring, 32 Arizona teens took home the highest award in Girl Scouting: the Gold Award.

“One of the most impactful parts of Girl Scouting is earning the Girl Scout Gold Award,” said Tamara Woodbury, CEO of Girl Scouts–Arizona Cactus-Pine Council. “This prestigious award represents the highest achievement in Girl Scouting and challenges girls ages 14–17 to initiate meaningful, sustainable change locally, nationally, or globally through unique ‘Take Action’ projects of their own creation.”

According to Woodbury, 2016 is extra-special as the Girl Scouts are celebrating the milestone 100th Anniversary of the Gold Award. Earning the Gold Award is somewhat comparable to the Boy Scouts’ Eagle Scout. While both achievements require developing and completing a service project, Girl Scouts must create a project that is sustainable and continues to give back to the community long after she moves on. Overall, the process usually takes 18 to 24 months and often involves seeking in-kind donations and recruiting volunteers.

“Empowering girls to lead is one of the greatest investments we can make,” said Woodbury. “When women adopt leadership roles, they contribute a unique set of skills, ideas and life experiences that enrich and strengthen communities. Girl Scouts, and the Gold Award specifically, gives girls the support and guidance they need as they step into impactful leadership roles.”

Here is a snapshot of our local honorees’ good works:

Ariana Schein: Prom Closet
Ariana Schein has been a Girl Scout for 14 years in the Pima neighborhood. As a student at Desert Mountain High School, she joined a peer leadership club whose purpose was to participate in extracurricular activities with special needs students. She discovered that children with disabilities are often isolated and unable to take part in everyday normal activities. And, they often had added expenses related to their care, which excludes them further. Schein decided to create a prom closet for the special needs kids at Hacienda Health Care. The closet would allow patients to borrow prom dresses so they could attend the prom hosted by Hacienda Healthcare. Schein organized and held a drive to collect dresses and donations for other items like racks, hangars and make-up. Overall, she collected nearly 100 dresses for the closet at Hacienda House. She plans to attend The University of Arizona and hopes to be a nurse.

Tess Grossman: Hear & Now
Tess Grossman was born profoundly deaf in both ears and was later fitted with cochlear implants and taught to communicate orally. She established and founded a support organization for the deaf and hard-of-hearing called Hear & Now. She focuses on educating children and parents about deaf culture, the struggles of being disabled, services offered by speech experts, and creating an environment for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. She found that having a hearing loss is empowering; there is nothing you can’t do as long as you are persistent, confident, and accept yourself for who you are. Grossman also gives auditorium-based college lectures at schools such as Colorado State University, A.T. Still University and Gallaudet. She hopes to study English literature in the U.K. in pursuit of becoming a goodwill ambassador for the AG Bell Association for the deaf and hard-of-hearing.

Reba Joyce Hagen: Be Your Own Hero
Reba Hagen has been a Girl Scout for 13 years, and says that the sense of belonging and confidence she has gained from being part of a troop has been deeply influential. For her Gold Award, Hagen wanted to raise awareness about bullying, suicide prevention and substance abuse, issues that affect her and many of her classmates. After compiling her research on the issues and how to cope, she created a presentation that she shared with the principals and vice principals at 24 Leona Group Schools in Arizona. She also hung posters at her school sharing what she had learned, hosted a booth during lunch hour where students could share their stories, or find resources about bullying, suicide prevention and substance abuse. In addition, she hosted an event at Dobson Library, where the 30 children learned about positive self-image. After Hagen graduates from Desert Hills High School in 2016, she plans to study business communication and aspires to become a photojournalist.

 

Earning the Gold Award is just one of the amazing things girls do as part of Girl Scouts. Over ninety percent of Girl Scouts not only attribute their success in life to Girl Scouts, but they also said they could not have had access to the same experiences anywhere else.

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