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.

 

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

Samantha of Lakewood Ranch Goes Gold

Gold Award Project: Primping for Prom and Pageants 

See the Video Interview here: https://youtu.be/qA7NbN6grNU?list=UUQu2q2bmzfNZJUoW1Qz20fg

Samantha HyattSamantha is a senior at Lakewood Ranch High School. She is the head captain of the marching band color guard and president of the Latin club. After high school, she is headed to University of Florida and she wants to be a TV news broadcaster.

Samantha noticed that there weren’t as many girls participating in the school’s beauty pageant and prom. She found that many girls could not afford these dresses which inhibited them to participate in the memorable events. With the Junior Advisory Board, she has started the program which involves young women donating dresses and others borrowing these dresses free of charge for these events. This program will be sustained through the years.

Samantha said, “My project helps increase self-worth in the girls at my high school because now all girls can participate in these events in which they will always remember. This project was a stepping stone in what I hope will be a lifetime of service.”

“We celebrate the Gold Award recipients for implementing community action projects that will serve those in need for years to come. Samantha exemplifies 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. Samantha will be recognized for this achievement in May 2015, at Girl Scouts Young Women of Distinction ceremony. Congratulations Samantha!

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

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Ashlynn of Lakewood Ranch Goes Gold

Gold Award Project: Dance for Lexi’s Paw Pals 

 See the Video Interview here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-a9-QFk53g

IMG_5576Ashlynn is a Senior at Lakewood Ranch High School, a cheerleader with the varsity squad, and a dancer with Jump Dance Company. For her project, she planned a ‘dance-a-thon’, in memory of her sister’s former classmate. She combined her passion for dance and love for animals to raise awareness within the community and collect item donations for the nonprofit, Nate’s Honor Animal Rescue.

Ashlynn says of what she learned, “I will no longer be hesitant to take on new challenges or to lead groups because I know I am capable of making a difference and teaching others that they can do the same.”

“Girl Scout Gold Award recipient Ashlynn, has already changed the world as a high school student. She mastered skills necessary to be an outstanding leader such as creativity and ability to positively influence others,” 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. Ashlynn will be recognized for this achievement in May 2015, at Girl Scouts Young Women of Distinction ceremony. Congratulations Ashlynn!

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

Cameron of Naples Goes Gold

Gold Award Project: The Taming of the Bard

 See the Video Interview here: http://youtu.be/ox-zlf5eT9A

Cameron Buxton is a senior at Seascrest Country Day School. She is preparing for college, applying at distinct schools such as Yale, Dartmouth, and Columbia to study paleontology. At her school, she is the stage manager of the drama department, the captain of several academic teams, the founder of The Scholar Bowl, part of Youth Leadership Collier, and has been in Girl Scouts for 11 years.

IMG_5411When she and her peers first were introduced to Shakespeare, her peers weren’t interested and thought it was hard. Cameron decided that she would introduce 40 students at her school to Shakespeare in a fun, non-intimidating way. Cameron wanted to teach students about important works of literature to enhance the already strong arts and music program at the school, so she educated and inspired.

Cameron is proud of the leadership skills she gained; “I think that my leadership skills will grow in the future because I have now gained the confidence to teach others about what I was passionate about. Leading people through artistic vision is something that I had never thought of doing before and definitely changes how I look at theater and my potential roles in it in the future.”

Peggy Arndt, Cameron’s Gold Award Advisor and Theatre Director at Seacrest Country Day School said, “Over the course of many weeks, Cameron succeeded in not just presenting Shakespeare, but in making his writing accessible to her students. Cameron had not only become a teacher, but a remarkably good, and inspiring one, at that.”

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. Cameron will be recognized for this achievement in May 2015, at Girl Scouts Young Women of Distinction ceremony. Congratulations Cameron!

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

 

Amanda of Bradenton Goes Gold

Gold Award Project: The Peaceful Place

 See the Video Interview here: http://youtu.be/xM2QOqQYI0c

Amanda is a freshman at State College of Florida, majoring in hospital administration and marketing. She was in Girl Scouts for over seven years. For her Gold Award project, she built a meditation garden for Peace Presbyterian Church in Bradenton. She says, “It’s a place for people to feel comfortable and get away; to think and be at peace.”

IMG_5381Amanda learned lifelong skills. She learned time management skills, how to lead several people in the management of a project, and she knows now she can accomplish anything she sets her mind to. Amanda knows she has made a difference in her church community. She feels that with the fast paced world, this garden can be a peaceful place for people to sit back and think. She says, “Maybe some of the world’s most inspiring thoughts are here. We don’t know?”

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

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. Amanda will be recognized for this achievement in May 2015, at Girl Scouts Young Women of Distinction ceremony. Congratulations Amanda!

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