Sarasota Girl Scout Takes Action Through Art

Pineview School graduate Marie Dull has earned Girl Scouting’s highest honor – the Gold Award – with her project entitled, “Produce-ing” Gratitude.

The project was designed to spread awareness of All Faiths Food Bank’s mission to provide healthy foods for families in need while creating a bright, colorful work environment to show appreciation to its volunteers. Marie designed and oversaw the painting of a 10 x 24-foot mural in All Faith’s food distribution room.

Dull GA project 20The project garnered local media attention, helping educate the public about the issue of hunger in the community. “Most people believe food banks only collect and distribute non-perishable goods to a few families in need,” said Marie. “All Faiths collects and distributes fresh fruits and vegetables daily to over 14,000 families in the Gulf Coast area.”

Now a freshman at New York University, Marie intends to paint murals for other community organizations as part of her long-term plan to be an art activist, using her passion for the arts for supportive and inclusive activism.

The Girl Scout Gold Award represents the highest achievement in Girl Scouting. Open only to girls in high school, this prestigious award recognizes girls who demonstrate extraordinary leadership through remarkable Take-Action projects with sustainable impact in their communities. 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scout Gold Award.

Be inspired and learn more about Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida’s other 2016 Gold Award recipients.

~Lori Tomlinson is the Manager of Communications and Marketing for Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, Inc.

Guest Blog: Kickin’ Violence and the Power of Youth Leadership

Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida Ambassador and 2015 Gold Award recipient Grace Wickerson talks about her award-winning program, Kickin’ Violence; the importance of youth leadership; and her vision for the future.

Editor’s note: Founded in 2013 by Grace Wickerson, Kickin’ Violence is a non-profit organization that seeks to empower youth to eradicate violence through education, service, and martial arts. It is one of the first national anti-violence organizations lead by and for youth.

I never planned on making Kickin’ Violence anything more than my Girl Scout Gold Award project. While I realized the importance of non-violence advocacy, I felt as if I had done “enough.” My project had seen great success, impacting countless people in Sarasota County, and was sustainable. Yet, on a whim, I applied to Youth Service America‘s National Child Awareness Month (NCAM) Ambassador Program fully expecting to be rejected.

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To my surprise, and utter joy, I was made the NCAM Ambassador for Florida. From that point on, I became a part of a supportive family and network of 50 other remarkable young leaders. I also became a representative of an organization that is trying to erase the invisible stigma against young leaders. I am committed to empowering youth everywhere to take the small steps, or even significant strides, toward a more equal, peaceful, and sustainable planet. I’ve realized that I still have a lot more work to do to eradicate violence, especially against women and LGBTQ+ people.

Now, with the support of my school board signaling further expansion of Kickin’ Violence into my local community; the National Child Awareness Month Youth connections that will spur national growth; the formation of a Youth Advisory Board; and the recognition as a National Jefferson Award Winner for Peace and Justice that will help us scale our service projects to impact 100,000 violence survivors and educate millions on how they can take a stand against violence; the future of this organization is bright.

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The success of Kickin’ Violence in just the past year has exceeded far beyond my expectations. I have made a difference in the lives of thousands in my own community. And now, I can maximize that impact to millions through my partnership with the National Jefferson Awards Foundation. I find it remarkable that I even considered giving up my fight. I can’t imagine what my life would be like right now without Kickin’ Violence. Building this organization over past three years has made me realize how much I have to give to those around me and how much good I can do just by taking action.

I believe that young people are not only the future, but they are also the “now.” Our age does not limit our ability to make a substantial difference in the world. I have learned how to work better with other leaders as well as how to inspire others to take on leadership roles. We will only be able to overcome the enormous challenges that we face, like extreme hunger, food scarcity, gender inequality, and climate change, together. These issues should not divide us, but rather, unite us. The intersectionality of many of these issues means that current and future leaders in these movements for a more sustainable future will need to know how to work with one another for the benefit of all. These leaders will also need to understand that they alone, no matter the size of their pockets or scope of their influence, will need the voices of the millions of individuals who have not yet been mobilized to lead. I realized that a leader’s impact should not be measured by how many followers they have, but by how many others they inspire to lead.

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That is why I am hosting my Anti-Violence Advocacy Workshop on April 23, 2016, at the Gulfcoast Event and Conference Center in Sarasota. I am leaving for college soon (in just over three months), but I do not want to see Kickin’ Violence lose momentum in Sarasota County. I am prepared to train a new group of leaders to take my place. They will be the voice for eradicating violence against women as well as the inequalities between people that cause violence to occur. I cannot wait to work with everybody that day and feel energized by the power of the upcoming generation. Together, we will be able to give our country a virtual “kick” in the right direction.

Editor’s note: For more information on Kickin’ Violence, or to register for the April 23 workshop, please visit www.kickin-violence.org.

Reaching for the Gold: An Inspirational Weekend at Camp Honi Hanta

Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida recently hosted the inaugural “Reaching for the Gold” weekend at Camp Honi Hanta. The program, organized by Manager of Community Troops and Outreach Eboni Curry, was designed around the GIRLtopia and BLISS Live it! Give it! Journeys. The goal: inspire girls to explore the possibilities for completing the Girl Scout Gold Award, which represents the highest achievement in Girl Scouting.

Gold Weekend Honi Hanta 3-11 - 3-12-16 168 cropThe small group of eight participants consisted of both new and existing Girl Scouts, ranging in age from 14 – 17. Some were excited about the experience. Others were a little skeptical.

Dimi is a perfect example. A junior at Booker High School, Dimi participated in Reaching for the Gold because her school guidance counselor thought it would be an excellent opportunity for her.  It was Dimi’s first experience with Girl Scouts, and she was unsure what to expect.

“I thought the weekend was going to be kind of boring, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to know anyone.  I had also injured my knee the previous day during track and field practice and was in a lot of pain. But something kept telling me I should go.”

Dimi dream boardAs a result of her injury, Dimi arrived at camp with a bulky brace on her leg.  As she hobbled into the Manatee House, she was surprised to discover she already knew all of the other girls. Dimi was not able to participate in the canoeing activity, but she stood by to encourage the other girls as they entered the river.  She contributed to all of the other activities with remarkably insightful responses and demonstrated leadership qualities as she inspired other girls to share their thoughts and ideas.

My favorite part of the weekend,” Dimi said, “was going into the lodge and doing our dream boards.” Dimi’s dream board reflects her passion for basketball and her determination to achieve academic success. “It was my favorite part because we stepped away from our phones and had the opportunity to be creative and think outside of the box. For me, it truly opened my eyes and made me think.

The result? Dimi is now inspired to work on her Gold Award.  She wants to focus on homelessness in Sarasota, which has been a perennial and controversial topic within the community.

I really appreciate Ms. Eboni and her team for putting together the weekend and for giving us young girls the opportunity. It helped me in a way that I can’t explain.” And that is what Girl Scouting is all about.

~Lori Tomlinson is the Manager of Communications and Marketing for Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, Inc.

 

Miranda of Sarasota Goes Gold

Gold Award Project: Shadybrook Village Game Room

 See the Video Interview here: http://youtu.be/YXuHvn-Lwbc

DSC01903Miranda created Shadybrook Village Game Room in order to provide a safe place with healthy activities for youth and families in her community.  She noticed an increase of troubled situations and there was a lack of positive, family entertainment in her neighborhood.  She designed and coordinated a game room in her community, which offers a safe place for teens and youth to have fun, also focusing on family game nights bringing families and the community together.

Miranda said, “This project has given me confidence and has greatly impacted my community. There is now a safe and entertaining place people can enjoy in my neighborhood which instills community and family bonding.”

“We celebrate the Gold Award recipients for implementing community action projects that will serve those in need for years to come. These young women exemplify the Girl Scout motto of building girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place,” said Sue Stewart, Chief Executive Officer of Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, Inc.

The Girl Scout Gold Award is so prestigious that some universities and colleges offer scholarships unique to Gold Award recipients, and girls who enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces may receive advanced rank in recognition of their achievements. Congratulations Miranda!

Learn more about the Girl Scout Gold Award: http://www.gsgcf.org/girls/gold-award

Sydney of Sarasota Goes Gold!

Gold Award Project: Environmentalist in Training 

 See the Video Interview here: http://youtu.be/cAkkzEbjRaE

Sydney is a Senior at Pine View School in Sarasota. She is involved in student government as treasurer of her class, and she is attending Florida State University in the Fall.

Inspired by attending an environmental science class, she created curriculum based on air and water pollution to encourage a younger generation to make a difference.  Week by week, she developed and taught lessons and engaged their attention with crafts to illustrate to students how to reduce pollution and the importance of taking care of the earth. Her goal is to address the diminishing state of the environment, encouraging students to make better decisions and for them to campaign for others to do so.

IMG_8344Sydney states, “I was inspired by this project to continue advocating for community and global issues. I learned how important it is to take action and now I have the motivation to continue doing that throughout my adult life.”

“Nationwide only 5.4% of qualifying Girl Scouts earn the Girl Scout Gold Award. As Sydney enters those ranks, she has distinguished herself by standing up for what she believes and taking action to make her community better”, states Sue Stewart, Chief Executive Officer of Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, Inc.

The Girl Scout Gold Award is so prestigious that some universities and colleges offer scholarships unique to Gold Award recipients, and girls who enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces may receive advanced rank in recognition of their achievements.  Congratulations Sydney!

Learn more about the Girl Scout Gold Award: http://www.gsgcf.org/girls/gold-award

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Grace of Englewood Goes Gold

Gold Award Project: SPARCC Change~ Eliminating Violence through Advocacy and Martial Arts

See the Video Interview here: http://youtu.be/7m6Am1oYp4M

DSC01910Grace is a Junior at Pineview and has been in Girl Scouts for 8 years, she is also involved with Interact Club, Model UN, Tae Kwon Do, and is the President of Kickin’ It Club at her school. Grace’s project was centered on abuse and encompassed advocacy, self-defense training, and support for survivors. She started a self-defense martial arts program at her school called Kickn’. She hosted an item drive for SPARCC, an abuse and rape awareness and prevention organization, raising $2,500 dollars’ worth of items for the shelter. She also hosted Respect Week at her school which included creative messages with chalk, self-defense, and presentations to 2,000 students.

Grace is very passionate about this topic. She said, “I see myself continuing to fight for change, despite obstacles, despite setbacks, despite trials and tribulations. I have become more of a go-getter because of this project, and I am ready to start more movements, make more waves, and help more people in whatever way I can.”

“Girl Scout Gold Award recipient Grace’s “Take Action” project will make a measurable and sustainable difference in our community.  Her positive attitude, teamwork, and commitment to service defines her as an inspiring leader and role model,” states Sue Stewart, Chief Executive Officer of Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, Inc.

The Girl Scout Gold Award is so prestigious that some universities and colleges offer scholarships unique to Gold Award recipients, and girls who enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces may receive advanced rank in recognition of their achievements. Congratulations Grace!

Learn more about the Girl Scout Gold Award: http://www.gsgcf.org/girls/gold-award

Rebecca of Sarasota Goes Gold

Gold Award Project: Self-Esteem~ An Outdoor Adventure

 See the Video Interview here: http://youtu.be/Ka6oMm3sTn0

[4539]headshotRebecca is a Senior at Sarasota High School and has been in Girl Scouts since she was a Daisy. She just won first place in environmental science at the state science fair.

As a Girl Scout, Rebecca has a great perspective of the opportunities afforded through camp environmental activities and the positive self-worth developed. Her project aims to provide mentorship and insight to girls in underserved lower socio-economic communities.  Rebecca created an outdoor adventure program for middle school girls participating in Girl Scouting through community supported troops.  Encompassing activities most girls participating have not had an opportunity to experience such as kayaking, rock climbing, orienteering, and camping, these young women are developing courage, confidence and character. Traits that will improve their self-esteem and their participation in positive actions in the community. Rebecca states, “by showing girls to do what they never thought capable, they gained belief in their ability to succeed which can be translated to all aspects of their lives.”

“Girl Scout Gold Award recipients are our future workforce, elected officials, and heads of civic and educational organizations. They are inspiring new generations of girls and families”, shares Sue Stewart, Chief Executive Officer of Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, Inc.

The Girl Scout Gold Award is so prestigious that some universities and colleges offer scholarships unique to Gold Award recipients, and girls who enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces may receive advanced rank in recognition of their achievements. Congratulations Rebecca!

Learn more about the Girl Scout Gold Award: http://www.gsgcf.org/girls/gold-award

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Marissa of Fort Myers Goes Gold

Gold Award Project: Sewing Hope for Haiti

See the Video Interview here: http://youtu.be/N8Cmv93Zn8k

DSC_0251Marissa is a Junior at Fort Myers High School and enrolled in International Baccalaureate, a pre-university program. She is also in the Science National Honor Society, the National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, Key Club and the Vice President of CNYK.

Marissa’s project was sewing pillow case dresses for girls in Haiti. She found that many of the kids in Haiti don’t have many clothes, sometimes they don’t have anything. She wanted to create something fun that the girls would love. She started with a pillow case drive, she then taught her group how to make the dresses. All together, they made 200 dresses and sent them to Haiti with a card.

“I believe that this project really allowed me to crawl out of a shell and really use my leadership skills to create such a successful project. It was a lot of work, but it was totally worth it. The little girls in Haiti are going to just love their new dresses.”

“We celebrate the Gold Award recipients for implementing community action projects that will serve those in need for years to come. These young women exemplify the Girl Scout motto of building girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place,” said Sue Stewart, Chief Executive Officer of Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, Inc. Sample dress 3

The Girl Scout Gold Award is so prestigious that some universities and colleges offer scholarships unique to Gold Award recipients, and girls who enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces may receive advanced rank in recognition of their achievements. Congratulations Marissa!

Check out Marissa in The News Press.

Learn more about the Girl Scout Gold Award: http://www.gsgcf.org/girls/gold-award

Sydney of Venice Goes Gold

Gold Award Project: Books and Bears for Literacy 

See the Video Interview here: http://youtu.be/47Aj-PTZcJ8

Sydney Ring (1)Sydney is a Junior at Suncoast Polytechnical High School. She has been in Girl Scouts since she was five years old. Her project focuses on encouraging preschool aged children to love books at an early age in order to improve literacy. Her original goal was to collect 500 books for children but then she included 500 bears so each child could have a “reading buddy.” In the end she collected 1,000 new bears and 1,400 new books to distribute to area preschool children.

Sydney said, “Literacy is a world need, but the awareness begins in each of our own communities.  Getting businesses, family members, and each of us personally committed to making literacy a goal for young children will allow us to ensure that we all do our part to promote the love for reading and future success of each child.”

IMG_4949 (2)“Girl Scout Gold Award recipient Sydney’s “Take Action” project will make a measurable and sustainable difference in our community.  Her positive attitude, teamwork, and commitment to service defines Sydney as an inspiring leader and role model,” states Sue Stewart, Chief Executive Officer of Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, Inc.

The Girl Scout Gold Award is so prestigious that some universities and colleges offer scholarships unique to Gold Award recipients, and girls who enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces may receive advanced rank in recognition of their achievements.Congratulations Sydney!

Learn more about the Girl Scout Gold Award: http://www.gsgcf.org/girls/gold-award

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Regine of Immokalee Goes Gold

Gold Award Project: Hygiene for Haiti

 See the Video Interview here: https://youtu.be/1xuVFJ9HdoQ

DSC_0254Regine, is a Senior at Immokalee High School who is dual enrolled at Florida Gulf Coast University. She has been in Girl Scouts for six years, is a part of the Beta Club, she runs cross country and track, she tutors elementary aged students after school at the Guadalupe Center.

Regine found that in her home county of Haiti, severe sanitation conditions are causing illness and death to adults and the youth. She worked with nonprofit Hope for Haiti, and other youth organizations to put together 150 hygiene kits to send to Haiti. As a community advocate, Regine states, “As the project leader, I realized my growth when other people were looking up to me to find inspiration in my actions. I know in my core that nothing is impossible. It is possible for an 18 year old girl to convince others to work together to make a positive impact and to change the world.”

YWOD 2015 085“Girl Scout Gold Award recipient Regine’s “Take Action” project will make a measurable and sustainable difference in our community.  Her positive attitude, teamwork, and commitment to service defines Regine as an inspiring leader and role model,” states Sue Stewart, Chief Executive Officer of Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, Inc.

The Girl Scout Gold Award is so prestigious that some universities and colleges offer scholarships unique to Gold Award recipients, and girls who enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces may receive advanced rank in recognition of their achievements. Congratulations Regine!

Regine was recently featured in People Magazine, Naples Daily News, and The News Press

Learn more about the Girl Scout Gold Award: http://www.gsgcf.org/girls/gold-award