My Gold Award honors my cousin Jessica. She was killed in a car accident in May 2017 because of distracted driving. I’ll never forget the look on her parents’ faces at the funeral, and I realized I never wanted anyone to go through what my family did. I knew I had to do something, so as soon as I got home I started mapping out what eventually became my Gold Award project.
I made five videos to explain distracted driving, created a petition to make Alabama a “hands-free” state, consulted with the CEO of StopDistractions.org, and developed a website featuring relevant statistics as well as Jessica’s story and my videos. Visuals can be so powerful; through my videos, I wanted to show people that everyone can play a part in preventing distracted driving, which is about so much more than texting—it’s about anything that keeps your eyes off the road.
It took a long time, and it wasn’t easy. I had to figure out exactly what each video was going to be about, what I was going to say, and how to get other people involved and work with a team. Also, I knew that working with a mentor was going to be important for me; mentors can cheer you on and encourage you to keep going. I now know I can really step up and do what’s right. And looking back, I enjoy seeing how much I grew from the first video to the last.
I knew I’d made an impact when people told me my videos have changed how they think about distracted driving. The videos are now offered as part of driver’s education classes statewide, and I’m so glad to be reaching kids before they even start driving.
Today more than 70,000 people have learned more about distracted driving through my materials—and I’m not going to stop. I’m scheduled to speak with the Alabama State Senate in February to advocate for a hands-free law, an effort I hope will save lives and bring even more attention to this crucial issue.
Becoming a Gold Award Girl Scout has opened up so many opportunities for me. I wrote about my Gold Award on my college application and was accepted into my dream college, where I’m going to study nursing. I actually wouldn’t have even thought about this career path if it hadn’t been for Girl Scouts; it’s where I did first aid and got my CPR certification.
My Gold Award project has meant so much to me and my entire family. It has brought us closer together. Through it, I’m saving lives. I'm proud that my project will continue to help others far and wide, making a huge and lasting difference.