For the Girl Scouts, preparing a girl for a lifetime of leadership is important. The leadership development program has allowed Eastside Girl Scouts Kari Anderson, Meredith Carle, Beth Tuschoff, and Emma Eversole to make a difference in their communities.
Since 1916, the Girl Scouts have undertaken projects to improve their communities and even the world. There are many awards a Girl Scout can receive for helping improve the community. The Gold Award is the most prestigious award a Girl Scout can earn. To earn the award, Girl Scouts need to solve an issue in their community.
For Kari Anderson of Mercer Island, addressing the topic of self-esteem was important. With the rise of social media, Anderson said young girls are easily exposed to curated and photoshopped imagery, which affects their perception of beauty. Anderson took action by hosting a workshop.
Through her workshop, “Pretty Pressure: How media and other factors affects expectations,” Anderson educated young girls from fifth to eighth grade about media. Anderson deconstructed perceptions about beauty and supported the girls to leave with a renewed sense of self-confidence.
“I had a lot of issues with self-esteem when I was their age,” Anderson said. “I think it [was] really important for these girls. It [was] necessary to let them know by giving them the knowledge that their perspective was being altered by all the information they receive.”
Anderson had the opportunity to share her workshop with a middle school health class on Mercer Island and three different Girl Scout troops. Her hour-long workshop involved small group discussion, interactive activities, informative statistics and a survey that asked a series of self-confidence questions.
According to Anderson, her workshop was effective for young girls and their parents. She said she received great feedback from parents after her workshop.
For her efforts, Anderson received a Gold Award.
“It was a rewarding feeling,” Anderson said about receiving the Gold Award. “It’s really nice to be able to give back to the Girl Scouts. As [Girl Scouts] grow up through the program, [they will] find something they enjoy and turn it into their own passion and help younger girls reach that [same] passion they achieved.”
The Gold Award is an accomplishment that young girls look forward to. To be able to identify a problem and to do something about it develops strong young women, the Girl Scouts organization says.
Twenty-year-old Meredith Carle of Issaquah remembers looking forward to the day she would receive a Gold Award, 13 years prior to receiving her award. To achieve her dream, Carle said she found what “upset her” and did something about it.
Carle developed a curriculum about human trafficking and how young adults interact with it in their everyday lives. Through her curriculum, “Who made THIS? Ethical labor education,” Carle helped her classmates understand how everyday products are connected to exploited labor.
“I thought that we really don’t talk about it at school,” Carle said. “I wanted to see if I could do something about it and make a topic we could talk about. It’s a big thing going on and we don’t learn about it.”
The curriculum was created to help increase interest in the moral undoing of unethical labor practices. It also empowered students to choose to consume more ethical products and it increased awareness of individual choice. The curriculum’s activities can be used by anyone who wants to teach on the subject.
“I’m really glad that I’ve been able to put [the curriculum] out and people have been talking about the issue,” Carle said. “It’s good to know that people are taking what I’m teaching and using it in their own lives.”
Carle is a sophomore at Rice University in Texas. She said her curriculum has become more than just a project. Carle now teaches a modified version of her curriculum at her university as part of a class that teaches students how to teach. Carle also started a blog and podcast about living a more conscious life for young adults.
In the future, Carle hopes to receive a degree in sociology and environmental studies. She wants to teach individuals about sustainability and ethical living in school workshops around the country.
“It’s especially important for young girls to make a difference,” Carle said. “We are the new voice. We have to learn how to speak and how to be powerful.”
Carle said the Girl Scouts program taught her the importance of leadership. Receiving the Gold Award motivated her to keep working towards raising awareness of ethical labor.
To help improve her community, 20-year-old Beth Tuschoff of Bellevue decided to help sustain and increase revenue for renovations at the Tukwila pool by creating a mural. Growing up, Tuschoff spent a lot of time around pools. She was a swimmer in high school and she was also a lifeguard. Tuschoff competed at the Tukwila pool often and noticed some things could be fixed at the public swimming pool.
With guidance, Tuschoff created “Visibility mural for Tukwila Pool.” The mural on the side of the pool building was painted to help generate publicity. Tuschoff organized a volunteer day to bring community members together for a time of bonding and painting.
“It felt really good and inspiring to see that more than just me was working at the pool,” said Tuschoff. “People working at the pool actually cared about supporting their community.”
In order for a Girl Scout to receive an award, she must put in 80 hours of work. Tuschoff said she worked about 90 hours to complete her project. Besides from painting the mural, Tuschoff said she helped with other fundraisers to help bring in revenue to help fix the pool.
According to Tuschoff, the pool as a community resource was increased by roughly 15 percent. For Tuschoff, the project has been one of her biggest accomplishments. She said she was able to do something to help out a lot of people. It also helped her be a better leader and communicator.
For 16-year-old Emma Eversole of Redmond, addressing the issue of insecurities was important, especially since she too struggled with insecurities. Eversole saw this was a big struggle for middle school and high school girls.
“I struggled with a lot of the same things. And I realized my friends who were in middle school and high school were struggling with similar things about body image and weight,” Eversole said. “I realized that was more than just my issue. Other people have this too. That’s what really got me going and researching what I could do about it.”
To tackle the issue, Eversole created a camp called “Healthy living for middle school girls.” About a dozen girls signed up for the camp. Eversole created a fitness packet that included different exercise routines. She also brought healthy snacks to promote healthy eating. Eversole held the camp every Saturday for two and a half hours during the month of September.
The camp was important for Eversole. At first, she said she was nervous, but the more she got involved with the group of girls, she realized how big it was for them to be there.
“They were [able] to confront this as a group. They had some sort of community,” Eversole said. “It was amazing for me to watch. I was really inspired by the girls themselves and by how much they were learning and doing.”
Through this camp, Eversole helped attendees learn healthy exercises and eating habits. Girls left feeling equipped to live a healthier lifestyle and left with a renewed self-confidence. Eversole even created a website to support these efforts and advertised the camp to about 115 nonprofit youth organizations.
Katie Zigweid of Kirkland also saw a root cause of a problem in her community. Zigweid saw that young children in her community don’t always know first aid, or how to deal with unexpected health hazards like broken bones and hypothermia.
To address the root cause, Zigweid created a project called “First aid training in the park,” to empower children. Zigewied created first aid lessons for children ages 7-12 in a park in Kirkland. Zigweid taught the kids hands-on activities like CPR. Children also had the opportunity to create their own first aid kit.
Not only should adults be prepared for an emergency but children as well. Through Zigweid’s lessons, children will be prepared to handle emergency situations.
Highest Awards program manager Amanda Aldous said she couldn’t help but feel inspired by the local Girl Scouts.
“The work each of these Girl Scouts put into their projects is bringing about positive change,” Aldous said. “Each of them has already made such a big change, there is no doubt in my mind that these Gold Award Girl Scouts are going to keep changing the world.”