- Who We Are
- For Adults
- For Girls
- Girl Scout Shop
Girl Scouts Honors Top Ten Teens 2003
March 25, 2003
Just last week, 10 extraordinary teenage Girl Scouts gathered in Washington, D.C., to be celebrated. Hailing from across the nation, including Puerto Rico and Hawaii, this year's honorees embody the outstanding leadership, personal development, and commitment necessary to earn this prestigious honor. Their dedication and time invested on their projects were honored at the Girl Scout Gold Award Young Women of Distinction event in our nation's capital.
Jennifer, from Minnesota, officially honored by Girl Scout National President Cynthia Thompson."Our Girl Scout Gold Award Young Women of Distinction show that philanthropy is thriving among our youth," said Jackie Barnes, Interim Chief Executive Officer of Girl Scouts of the USA. "These young women addressed issues affecting their communities head on, and showed tremendous leadership, perseverance and commitment. For that, we honor them."
Honored at Nation's Capital
From March 15-19, this year's honorees were in the spotlight. Career mentors, government officials, family members, and Girl Scout executives honored the teenagers for serving their communities.
Each Young Woman of Distinction was paired with a mentor who had similar interests. The mentors, distinctive in their fields, provided honorees with a glimpse into their own futures. Girls networked, built relationships, and learned from successful women. Mentors included:
U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka of Hawaii met with Susan and Nibia, Young Women of Distinction from Hawaii and Puerto Rico.The celebration began with a focus on self-development. The teen honorees participated in intensive educational sessions and learned about money management, leadership, communications, and advocacy. Using their newly honed skills the Young Women of Distinction met with government officials from their own states later in the week. Each girl spoke of critical issues facing teens today.
"It was great to see that important people care about what I did." said Katie, Young Woman of Distinction from Wisconsin. "Meeting with my senator has made me think that I can help people on a larger scale."
A highlight of the five-day event was an awards luncheon at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Mentors, families, Washington, D.C. area guests, and Girl Scout officials gathered to pay tribute to these extraordinary teens.
Women's National Basketball Association's Charlotte Sting Guard and two-time Olympic gold medalist Dawn Staley served as keynote speaker. Staley is known for her community service work with the Charlotte and Philadelphia communities. She spoke of leadership and teamwork in her life as a professional athlete. Staley also urged girls to continue in their philanthropic efforts.
"Keep using your creative minds and uplifting the younger generation," said Staley in her inspirational speech. "I look forward to seeing the impact you'll have on our world."
Cynthia Thompson, Chair of the Girl Scout National Board of Directors, noted how each Girl Scout Gold Award Young Woman of Distinction exemplifies the spirit of Girl Scouting.
"I wish we could hold you up to the world so that others might witness your character and achievement," said Thompson to the honorees as she looked into a crowd of smiling faces.
Sharon Wibben, Sr. Vice President of in-flight Services for Delta, congratulated the honorees. Delta was the official airline of the Girl Scout Gold Award Young Women of Distinction event and provided travel for all ten girls. The Kappa Delta Sorority provided each Girl Scout Gold Award Young Woman of Distinction a $1,000 scholarship toward their college tuition.
D.C. Area Fun
In between the honors and meetings with government officials, the Young Women of Distinction toured the nation's capital and major monuments. They even took time out to enjoy the theater production of Grease and danced to the rock music of Los Tigres Del Norte at the Kennedy Center.
This Year's Recipients
Diana, Age 18
Fort Collins, Colorado
"Theater that Heals"
"Cutting" is a practice few adults know about, but for Diana, a college freshman studying theater and English, self-mutilation or cutting was a growing concern. So, for her Girl Scout Gold Award project Diana wrote and, with the help of the Center for Alternatives to Violence, performed a theater piece to promote awareness of this issue. Her performances—and an open forum for questions—helped adults and teens communicate about this difficult subject.
Diana is also creating a script that community organizations can use to further awareness. She hopes to continue using theater to promote social change.
Elizabeth, Age 18
"Creating Community Outreach Online"
Elizabeth used her computer savvy in her Girl Scout Gold Award project, creating a Web site for a grassroots homeless program for women and children. Elizabeth learned the mission and services of this organization, Good Shepherd Services of Orlando, set up the site, and taught its staff how to maintain it. Her hard work paid off. Within a week, the organization greatly broadened its clientele and was soon helping people from as far away as Ohio obtain the services they need. The Web site Elizabeth created continues to support women and children in need.
Elizabeth is a college freshman majoring in Journalism and Film Studies.
Felicia, Age 17
San Bernardino, California
"All in One Place: A Guide for the Disabled"
Because she has a brother with autism, Felicia knew firsthand the difficulty of finding resources for people with disabilities. For her Girl Scout Gold Award project, Felicia put together a comprehensive resource manual for a regional center serving more than 150,000 individuals with developmental disabilities, working with several different agencies to combine their resources into one. Felicia's manual has already helped over 17,000 special needs adults and children, service providers, and professionals working with youth.
Felicia plans to study Biomedical Engineering and become a doctor.
Jennifer, Age 17
"Justice for All"
Last year, after Jennifer saw girls bullying her friend in the hallway, she discovered that this behavior was the norm in many schools. For her Girl Scout Gold Award project Jennifer created an educational anti-bullying program for third grade students in her community. She believed that teaching kids tolerance early on is key. Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE), brought high school students into elementary classrooms every day for a week to be role models for the younger students. Jennifer wrote the curriculum, recruited and coordinated volunteers, oversaw the classes, and promoted them to parents and community groups. The program has become a permanent part of her school's third grade curriculum.
Jennifer hopes to make justice her career and plans to study law.
Katie, Age 17
"It's Not Your Fault"
For three years Katie has been volunteering at a sexual assault crisis center. During that time she saw plenty of resources for adults, but never any for abused children. For her Girl Scout Gold Award project Katie created a booklet entitled "Why Me?" Colorful and simple enough for children to understand, the booklet tells kids what sexual abuse is, how to cope with the abuse, where to go for help, and—most importantly—that it is not their fault. Katie worked with three agencies to gather research for her book and obtained funding to produce 750 copies. Local hospitals and social service agencies continue to use it to help sexually abused children cope.
Katie plans on working with children as a teacher or social worker.
Nibia, Age 15
Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico
"You Can Dance"
For Nibia, dancing is a passion—one that she believes can be enjoyed by everyone, "You can dance," she told girls living in a Public Housing unit in Puerto Rico, and through her dance program Danza Libre, Nibia did just that. Nibia found a location for her program, remodeled it, and secured funding for supplies and dance uniforms. Soon a group of girls ages 8-13, living in a neighborhood with a high teen pregnancy rate, all with very different personalities, were smiling, dancing, and feeling good about themselves.
The most touching moment for Nibia came when a young girl who had recently lost her mother to cancer said, "My mom died happy because she saw me dancing." Nibia's workshops culminated in a talent show, and the program continues with the girls performing for community cultural events. Nibia's great aspiration? To develop into a great Flamenco dancer and own a dance academy.
Priti, Age 18
"The Gift of Sight"
Hearing about her great-grandfather's eye condition and getting her own first pair of glasses inspired Priti to help hundreds of people with vision problems in India, her parent's homeland. Priti took to heart a line in the Girl Scout law, "To help where I am needed" and put together a three-day eye clinic in the small village of Nawalgarh, to provide free eye care—including surgery and eyeglasses—to the villagers.
The clinic eventually treated 700 patients for various eye conditions. More than 90 surgeries were performed in the three days. The villagers' determination and their positive attitudes in facing hardship was a profound learning experience. "As I helped them regain their eyesight," she said, "they helped me to see myself in a whole new light."
Savannah, Age 17
"Red Carpet Day"
Savannah's personal bout with cancer at age 12 led her to create "Red Carpet Day." From across the Southeast she brought 40 teens with cancer to Atlanta for three days, to enjoy themselves at Six Flags amusement park. Her goal was to roll out the red carpet for these teens and let them temporarily forget their worries. Savannah secured over $21,000 in goods and services to carry out her event, including transportation, housing, and a concert by a popular boy band. The project was such a success that CURE Childhood Cancer will now sponsor Red Carpet Day annually, and Savannah hopes to take her project to different towns all over the U.S.
Savannah is planning to pursue a career in politics.
Susan, Age 16
"Children Can Make a Difference"
Susan's childhood dream of becoming a teacher led her to create "Kids Who Care." The goal of her Girl Scout Gold Award project was to tap the potential all children have. She did just that by imparting to children a love for philanthropy. Working with 30 children and their families at a Hawaii preschool, they participated in 11 community service projects over an eight-month period. Susan's brainchild not only teaches young children the benefits of service, but also helped many different community organizations with their needs. The program continues with the help of Susan's sister, her Girl Scout troop, and the teachers at the school.
Tamaron, Age 17
"Chain Reaction of Knowledge"
Tamaron looked to her past when deciding on a community service project. Growing up, she spent a lot of time in her parent's optometry practice in Oakland's Chinatown. For her Girl Scout Gold Award project she decided she wanted to help that community by promoting Hepatitis B awareness.
Fluent in Chinese and interested in medicine, Tamaron created an informative brochure. She passed out over 400 brochures containing Hepatitis B information at a booth in Chinatown and promoted free screenings. The result? One hundred fifty people signed up for free screenings at a local lab. The biggest sign of success was when people also brought their family and friends to sign up as well. Tamaron calls it the "chain reaction of knowledge." And with the brochure still circulating in the community, the chain continues.
Tamaron is currently a lab assistant and will major in Biology when she begins college this fall. She will continue in Girl Scouting as a Campus Girl Scout.
For more information about Girl Scouting, or to join or volunteer, please call (800) GSUSA 4 U.