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Hanna's Story

Highest Awards Highlights

Making a Difference Around the World: USA Girl Scouts are making a difference in over 80 countries around the world!  Take a look at some of the ways Girl Scouts Overseas are making positive change in their community.

Highest Awards Highlights

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USAGSO Gold Award Spotlight

The Girl Scout Gold Award is the most prestigious award in the world for girls—and the most difficult to earn—and it’s only available to Girl Scouts! At USA Girl Scouts Overseas, we are excited to highlight Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, and Leaders living overseas who are thinking big and making sustainable impacts in their communities and countries all around the world. 

Gold Award Girl Scout: Tegan
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For our very first USAGSO Gold Award Girl Scout story, we are featuring Tegan from Dhahran, Saudi Arabia and her Gold Award Girl Scout project called: Ocean’s Alive. Congrats Tegan!

Gold Award Girl Scout Project Title: Ocean’s Alive

Realizing how the world’s oceans are struggling to survive because of plastic waste, Tegan’s Gold Award Girl Scout project focused on educating people about the issue and developing solutions to make easy changes that will help minimize waste and trash, and in turn, positively impact the future of our environment. As a Girl Scout located overseas in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, Tegan’s Girl Scout Gold Award project benefited people all over the world as they learned how they are part of the problem, how to help, and why it is so important to have clean oceans.

Her Gold Award Girl Scout project was developed as a combination of online informational sites and multiple zero waste events to help educate people on the issue that oceans are being destroyed and what changes an individual can take to make a difference. In addition to the zero-waste events and informational games, Tegan developed a website to make the information easily accessible to anyone who had an interest in positively affecting our shared environment. Her project will continue on through environmental clubs at her schools as well as the individuals who are now educated on how plastic waste is damaging our environment and what steps they can take to make a difference. 

According to Tegan: “The issues the oceans have will be a lifelong journey to fix, and I will continue throughout my life to help educate people to make changes in their lifestyle and participate in helping to solve an issue so very important to all the world and people’s well-being. When I started my project, I knew that I wanted to be able to have a reliable and sustainable aspect that would keep my project alive, hopefully for many generations, so I focused on the highly sustainable aspect of education. Knowledge empowers people and once you educate one person there is a multiplier effect where they will educate others and then those people will educate even more people until we get to the point where everyone is aware of the issues at hand. To educate I have created and dedicated a few portions of my project to learning and teaching in various forms for different ages. I thought that creating many aspects to my project that were educational, online, and accessible for people worldwide would help to have a long-lasting and sustainable effect.”

You can learn more about this G.I.R.L.’s hard work in environmental advocacy and awareness-raising, by visiting her website. USA Girl Scouts Overseas is proud of your leadership and can’t wait to see what you do in the future to help generations to come! 

Gold Award Girl Scout: Michelle
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For our second USAGSO Gold Award Girl Scout feature story, we are excited to introduce you to Gold Award Girl Scout, Michelle, from USA Girl Scouts Overseas – Paris. Congrats Michelle!

Gold Award Girl Scout Project Title: Mental and Physical Well-being in the Boarding House

Recognizing that students today are struggling with stress now more than ever, and do not always have the skills or support to appropriately handle it, Michelle’s Gold Award Girl Scout project focused on changing that by providing information and techniques to help alleviate students’ stress and focus on their physical and mental well-being. As a student at a boarding school participating in the International Baccalaureate program, Michelle witnessed how many teenagers, especially those who just left home, lacked the skills in self-care and didn’t know how to balance schoolwork and personal time. This combination had a negative effect on their grades and increased their stress level. Further motivated to make a difference was Michelle’s understanding of how stress can cause mental and physical isolation, which can cause depression and/or suicide.

As the ultimate overseas G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™, Michelle was compelled to address this issue and make a positive change for her fellow students after observing how many students were concentrating on their workload at the expense of their wellbeing during the most stressful parts of the school year. Her Gold Award Girl Scout project focused on three main components: a website, a series of workshops, and a parental guide. The website was designed in consultation with psychologists, staff, and students to be used as a quick, sustainable reference for other students. The workshops she led were centered on providing techniques and concrete tools for students to use during stressful situations. The workshops continue to this day as a support for students throughout the school year. The parental guide was shared with parents, so they can also understand the harm stress causes and learn what they can do to best support their children.

According to Michelle: “Governing bodies are realising that students are more stressed today than ever before and that this leads to many mental health issues, unruly behaviour and lower rates of achievement. An unhappy country of students means an unhappy future. Thus, my project directly targets the resolution of this problem: ensuring mental wellbeing and thus avoiding a deterioration in educational attainment. By undertaking this project, “I discovered that I am a leader who leads primarily by example. I myself attempted many of the wellbeing techniques and have passed on my knowledge to others.”

You can learn more about this G.I.R.L.’s important work in the issues of stress management and  mental health for students, by visiting her website.

Way to go Michelle! USA Girl Scouts Overseas is proud of your leadership and can’t wait to see what you do in the future to help generations to come!

Gold Award Girl Scout: Sarah
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We are excited to feature Gold Award Girl Scout, Sarah from Cobham, England, and her project “Knit for the Children” for our next installment of USAGSO’s Gold Award Girl Scout Spotlight. Congrats Sarah! 

Gold Award Girl Scout Project Title: Knit for the Children

Upon learning about how refugees were fleeing from Syria with nothing more than the clothes upon their backs, Sarah decided she needed to take action to make a difference. Through her initial research, Sarah discovered that many refugees were in desperate need of winter clothes. The aim of Sarah’s Girl Scout Gold Award project was to find an innovative way to provide much needed assistance to refugees by helping them stay warm during the winter.

Utilizing a charity connection through her church, which was already supporting Syrian refugees who fled to Turkey, Sarah ensured that these families were given the means to stay warm during the cold winters in Turkey by sending over 175 pieces of knitted winter hats and scarves. Sarah was able to provide all of these knitted materials because she recruited many knitters to help her with her project. She started a knitting club at her high school and she reached out to nursing homes and other community groups to find volunteers with knitting skills. Through her entire project, Sarah remained focused on who would ultimately benefit from her project and through this focus, she persevered through difficulties. Beyond providing people with a way to stay warm in the winter, Sarah also used the time knitting with others to enlighten them on the issues that refugees face on a day-to-day basis. Sarah’s impact continues today through the knitting club she started at her high school. They have knitted items for both local and international charities and hospitals—including over 20 hats that have been donated. Due to her strong leadership, the knitting club will continue even after Sarah’s graduation from her high school.

According to Sarah: “Before this project, I have mostly been reserved and willing to let others step forward and take the lead in many situations. However, this project has taught me that if I want something to get done in line with my vision, I have to be the one to lead in delegating, making decisions and to being responsible. Although I am not the most comfortable person making presentations or volunteering to lead, as I have had to do, I now realize the necessity of leadership skills and have learned that I am capable of leading a project like this if need be. I was initially very nervous about this project, as I knew it would involve public speaking and thought I might be able to avoid it. However, I have learned the importance of delivering a message with the passion that can only be accomplished in person and that of public speaking skills through this project.

Congratulations Sarah on your successful Girl Scout Gold Award project! The impact that you have had on both the refugee community and your local community will be felt for years to come. 

Gold Award Girl Scout: Emma
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For the next USAGSO Gold Award Girl Scout story, we are featuring Emma from Yokota, Japan and her Gold Award Girl Scout project. Congrats Emma! 

Gold Award Girl Scout Project Title: The Enchanted Sensory Garden at Yokota Air Base

According to research, when stationed on a military base overseas, there is a greater risk of being faced with long work hours, extended time away from family, and deployments, all of which can lead to anxiety and depression. Upon learning this, Emma wondered, “Where are we falling short in helping the men and women who are serving our country? Sometimes it is not just the active duty member who is suffering, what about their families…wives, husbands, children? What can I do to help?” Emma then took action through an innovative approach that addressed the identified issues by building a self-sustaining, interactive sensory garden to support the military community stationed at Yokota Air Base, Japan for her Gold Award Girl Scout project.

What is a sensory garden you ask? It is a garden that stimulates the five senses: Sight, Sound, Touch, Smell, and Taste. The real focus of the garden is to teach “Grounding,” a technique used to help anxiety, depression, autism, and sensory processing disorders. Grounding techniques are an important component of Emma’s sensory garden as they can immediately connect someone with the here and now. For example, listening to the buzzing of a bee, touching cool moss, smelling lavender bud on on your hands, or tasting fresh mint are all grounding techniques that produce sensations that are difficult to ignore or distract you from what's going on in your mind. This helps you directly and instantaneously connect with the present moment. Emma hopes that people will visit the garden and enjoy the time away from the stresses of their daily lives. She wants to help people see that nature can help relax the body and mind and, even if they do not have a lot of time to spend there, it can still offer a quiet place to think.

Through a partnership with the American Red Cross on base, Emma has ensured that her project will be sustained for years by utilizing volunteers who already maintain a garden for the Red Cross. Therefore, the sensory garden will continue to be a positive addition to the base and one that offers a safe, quiet, and interactive place for people to visit for many years to come.

According to Emma: “My sensory garden, like many other projects of this magnitude, taught me some valuable lessons that I plan to carry with me and help make me a better leader and manager in the future. Some of the skills I learned are how to effectively budget time and money, plan a community-wide event, and work with different personality types and harness each of their strengths. Through this process, I learned that my versatility and ability to effectively problem solve are both great assets and I was also reminded that I am most effective when I maintain a positive attitude and don’t let myself get overwhelmed by too many details.”

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How can you support Highest Awards Girl Scouts?  

Whether a Project Advisor, Troop Leader, or Gold Award Committee Member and mentor, there are many ways to support USA Girl Scouts Highest Awards Projects.  Contact us  to find out more about the opportunities available to support Girl Scouts in earning their Highest Awards!