NEW ORLEANS – This year, seven determined Girl Scouts earned Girl Scouts’ most prestigious award, the Gold Award. To be considered for the Gold Award, a Girl Scout must show exceptional leadership, organizational skills, and complete a community service requirement.
Despite the pandemic, seven Girl Scouts agreed to take on this challenge and developed projects to address issues in their communities that will have an impact for generations to come.
When the pandemic hit, Taylor Chiasson of Thibodaux was concerned about children’s lack of access to public and school libraries and the effect it could have on their development. Because of this, Taylor developed a web series and YouTube channel called “Anytime Reads” with dramatic readings of popular children’s books.
Ashlei Douglas, of Metairie, created a program called “Eliminating Stress in Youth” to raise awareness of stress issues and address the stigma that prevents students from getting help. She took her message to the students at two magnet elementary schools in her area; Airline Park Academy for Advanced Studies and Metairie Academy for Advanced Studies, teaching them how to identify stressors in their lives and brainstormed productive ways to manage stress with each group.
Kennedy Ertel, of Luling, constructed free libraries to help make reading more accessible to the people in her community and promote recycling and resource-sharing.
Noelle Ford, of Slidell, developed a program to help peers in her high school identify stressors and cope with high levels of stress and anxiety.
Reva Keller, of Waggaman, motivated by the issue of student access to affordable learning materials, created several small free-standing libraries outside the fire stations in her community.
Emily Kraus, of Terrytown, wanted to bring awareness to issues such as habitat destruction, pollution, and climate change to children at their early stages of life, in hopes of making children more likely to care and seek education about the environment. For her project, she researched and wrote an ABC book about environmental science.
Meghan Michel, of Covington, developed a program called “Naturally Confident” to help teach children outdoor skills so they can be confident in the outdoors. In partnership with Northlake Nature Center, Meghan developed an outdoor skills patch program that teaches kids safety, first aid in the outdoors, and how to pack and navigate the center’s 400-acre preserve.
“While many of us were struggling to find what to do with our time during the pandemic, these girls were out finding solutions to the big problems in their communities. We couldn’t be prouder of their accomplishments,” says Rebecca Pennington, GSLE’s Chief Executive Officer.
A reception and pinning ceremony took place at the Old Governor’s Mansion in Baton Rouge on June 16. Gold Award Earners from 2021 and 2020 were recognized since last year’s ceremony was canceled due to the pandemic. Gold Award Honorees from 2020 include Madalin Costella of Luling, Tatum Dugas of Luling, and Remi Mato of Luling. Emily Kraus was presented the Kelly C. O’Mahoney Gold Award Scholarship by Judy Heiman and Cathy Lackner of the Kelly Kicking Cancer Scholarship Committee.