The Gold Award is the highest award a girl can earn
in Girl Scouting. It’s a national standard that acknowledges a girl’s accomplishments, leadership, commitment, creativity, and personal effort to make the world a better place. Each Gold Award is a significant achievement in a girl’s life and an extension and compilation of all she has learned through her Girl Scout experience.
Our seventh Gold Award project features, Calina Wiesner with her project “Meditation Bench at Aptos High School.” Calina’s Gold Award project was centered around mental health advocacy in her school community. Due to the pandemic, many students found themselves struggling with their mental health. She began to develop a way for students to improve their mental health at their own pace, with accessible resources. She ultimately came to the idea of building a meditation bench at her high school. The bench is located in a quiet area with a decent amount of foot traffic. She constructed the bench on top of existing railroad ties in the area, and attached painted rocks with uplifting messages and images to the bench. Once the bench was complete, She also wanted to allow students to continue to receive mental health support outside of school, so she compiled local and national mental health resources onto website pages. The pages were then added to her high school’s ASB wellbeing page, where students could easily access the pages. To access the resources easily, she created a QR code for the website and placed it on the bench, allowing bench users to scan the code to access the ASB website. Upon completion, Calina organized a formal ribbon cutting ceremony for the project that students and staff attended.
Calina says, “My Gold Award project ultimately taught me the value of leading a team in a supportive manner, by encouraging people to do their absolute best even when there is an obstacle in their way. This project was in no way easy, but I learned the value of sticking with a project until its completion and the satisfaction that comes with positively impacting your own community. I will continue to use the lessons I learned from this project throughout my life, and for that, I am incredibly grateful for being able to complete this project and receive the Gold Award.”
Calina is currently attending UCLA as a freshman, where she hopes to double major in Communications and Global Studies. She plans to work in the communications field, and potentially specialize in scientific reporting.
Our eighth Gold Award recipient, Carina Pitstick, with her project “Creating a Wellness Center for a Local Elementary School,” where she created diverse “stations” for children to go to depending on their mood. The project featured a secure “Counselor Station” for kids to get one-on-one time with a counselor as well as a space for the counselor council a student. The second diverse station featured a “Socialization Station” filled with games and team-building activities to facilitate healthy interactions with other students. The third diverse station created was a “Quiet Corner Station” with relaxing furniture and calming toys for kids to destress. The final station created was “Gratitude Station” with tools to help the student express appreciation as well as mental health worksheets student could do in order to pinpoint their emotions. Carina sourced the items in the Wellness Center through a combination of secondhand items donated by friends and family, new items from local retailers, and cash donations from friends and family to purchase remaining items needed. She ensured the continuation of the Wellness Center by instructing future counselors with a google drive containing links to all the consumables and all worksheets.
Carina says, “I learned that I am capable of taking charge and I have the power to make a big impact on my community. I also realized that helping the community is contagious. After I created a Wellness Center, more elementary and middle schools in the district made a Wellness Center at their school. This showed me that my impact went further than one elementary school; my impact spread and improved more children’s lives.”
Carina plans to attend college in the fall and pursue a career in medicine. She hopes to incorporate mental health into her practice because mental health is just as important as physical health.
Our ninth featured Gold Award recipient, features Danica Gonzalez with her project “Chumash Center Trail Guide.” Danica organized a team to design and complete a trail map for the Chumash Indian Museum. The Chumas Indian Museum is a local museum that works to preserve Chumash history and educate about the present day lives of the Chumash people. Danica wanted to encourage more visitors to the museum because the Chumash center has an outdoor exhibit, however many people do not know about the outdoor portion because there is no map provided. Danica knew by making this trail map, visitors will easily be able to access the outdoor exhibits and learn more about the Chumash Center increasing participation and visitors.
Danica plans to attend college and then medical school. Currently she is considering becoming a forensic pathologist.
For more information about the Gold Award and how Girl Scouts are creating positive change within their communities, visit here.