In early May, Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida held their annual Gold Award Ceremony. Among the eighteen Girl Scouts presented with a Gold Award this year were Plantation residents, Katherine Gould of Troop 10344, Emily Hui of Troop 10858, and Jaleesa Smith of Troop 10639.
The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest award a Girl Scout in grades 9 – 12 can earn. The level of commitment to complete a Gold Award project is so great that less than 6% of all Girl Scouts in the world earn it. It is accomplished by completing a service project with a minimum of 80 logged hours. The project must fulfill a need in the community, create change, and be sustainable with long-term possibilities. Gold Award projects demand the highest level of organizational, leadership, and project management skills.
Katherine’s project titled Always Wondering: Science for Low-Income Preschoolers was inspired after she took a trip with her troop to God’s Little Lambs, a low-income family pre-school in Oakland Park. The observant scout has loved science since a young age and to her dismay, she noticed that preschoolers don’t enter elementary schools with a basic understanding of the scientific method: observation, curiosity and wonder. She worked closely with the school’s director to develop weekly, age-appropriate, science lessons and experiments for the children. She researched experiments, created a simple template for a lesson plan, and compiled lesson plans that she provided to the school throughout the year.
Emily’s project titled Take the Stage was first inspired when she volunteered at Surfers for Autism in 2016. After seeing the event sell out, she realized there needed to be more programs for these children. This eager scout chose to address this need through one of her passions: dance. Take the Stage is offered in partnership with Broward County Parks and the Recreation Special Populations Division and is a program where dance is taught to special-needs children with help from high school volunteers.
“Because we are not much older than our participants, my volunteers and I are able to bond with our students very closely,” explained Emily. “The parents cheer and encourage their children during the classes and the children benefit from improved confidence, coordination, and social and motor skills. The volunteers also gain a lot from the class as they see the students grow and improve every week. There are usually tears from both parents and volunteers at the end of each session.”
Jaleesa’s project titled One Note at a Time stemmed from her intense passion for music. The talented scout has played the saxophone for more than six years and learned on her own how to play the clarinet, flute, baritone, trumpet, bassoon, guitar, bass, drums, and piano. However, when she got to high school, she felt others were more musically advanced than she was. So, she created a comprehensive guide designed for any beginning band student or for any player who wants to understand their instrument better. Sunrise Middle School and Fort Lauderdale High School all benefited from her ambitious project.