While many teens were hanging by the pool this Summer, Josie Goodman was doing something else: Taking Action in her community by receiving her Silver Award.
The project addressed the cleanliness of the park (or lack of); while the main part of the park was clean, the fence line of the park was quite messy. I hoped to get the park clean by having a committee that would constantly get organizations to come out and pick up the fence line, and by doing this, the park would be clean for adults and safer for children.
The Silver Award is the highest award a Cadette Girl Scout can earn. There are three main requirements to earning your Silver Award: the project must be sustainable, global and measureable. Girls must also pick an issue that they are passionate about and research to find the root cause of that issue.
The root cause of this issue was that big events, like a carnival or Relay for Life, which get a lot of participants from the town. Those people buy food with wrappers of some sort, or drinks in plastic or styrofoam cups and even though most of them throw away their trash, by the end of the night the garbage cans are overflowing. The wind then carries this trash away and it gets caught in the fence line. I addressed this issue by scheduling the park clean ups the weekend (Saturday or Sunday, depending on when the organization wants to do it) after these events and this way the trash cannot be left behind for months at a time.
My project is sustainable because I have formed a committee that will be able to continue the project even when I am long into my college years and beyond. I was sure to find someone who is eco-minded so they would already have an interest and would continue the project.
My project is global because I have never set up and organization before in my life. Also, I had to go completely out of my comfort zone and talk to people I had never met, and then convince them that they should come and work on a weekend for the sake of the environment and the children.
My first obstacle actually presented itself before I even sent in the proposal, I had originally wanted to work with Adopt a Highway to get organizations to come out and adopt a highway. But they already had most of the highways taken care of so my assistance wasn’t needed. I really wanted to do something for the environment and after a day in the park where I saw kids putting trash in there mouths a new project idea came to mind. The original idea evolved into the committee I have now: Clean It Up!
One of the things I learned is that making a to-do list can be the easiest and most helpful thing you do for your project. The main leadership skill I learned was public speaking; in general I wasn’t the best speaker but after this project and repeatedly giving the presentation I made, I found speaking to new people wasn’t as hard as it had started out to be. I also found out that I love the feeling of getting the job done and getting more people to come help with the clean ups.
The most successful part of the project would be the moment when the girls of Girls Scout Troops 1224, 104, and 419 finished the very first Clean It Up! park clean up day. That moment when we turned around and looked at all of our hard work to start off the project, and how clean the park looked. It made me so proud when I looked at the girls around me I saw the same pride on their faces. If I had to do something differently I would’ve loved to have started my project sooner so I would have had more time to work on getting organizations involved.
Award programs such as the Bronze, Silver & Gold Awards help girls reach the 15 leadership outcomes. They learn practical skills that they will be able to use for the rest of their lives.
The practical life skills would have to be improving my public speaking skills and leadership skills in general (telling people what to do and helping them with the work). I also developed critical thinking by figuring out the most efficient and fastest way to pick up the park within the time I had told everyone.
I built healthy “relationships” with managers or leaders of organizations and my project supervisor. I promoted team building and cooperation by setting up the first volunteers in groups and getting them to work on two separate sides of the park. After seeing how many organizations wanted to do this I felt more connected to my community.
I identified a community issue by literally looking at my community and finding an issue that directly affected the people of my town. To be a resourceful problem solver, I found easy and involved ways to fix the problem. I educated people about the time it would take for all the trash to fully decompose so it would no longer be there and a lot of people realized the trash just wouldn’t disappear. After getting all these people interested I feel like my drive can help change my community for the better and make a difference.
I’m sure that as I get older I will need to make some sort of public speeches, whether it be in high school, in college, or even as an adult, I can look back on this project as the first time I began to expand my public speaking experience, as well as gathering groups of volunteers and coordinating volunteer participation in my project.. Expanding my experience alone will allow me to grow as a public speaker and will let me gain confidence that I don’t sound foolish when I speak.
I will inspire other girls to take action by telling them about the feeling you get when you complete a take action project and know you did it with your own ideas and inspirations. I’ll tell them about the pride you feel when you complete everything and look back and say “I started that”.
Check out the presentation that Josie put together to help inspire others:
Other resources Josie put together for others interested in helping the cause:
And, what project would be complete without a photo gallery?
Interested in earning your Bronze, Silver or Gold Award? Get started here.