Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Gold Award Spotlight: Crohn's and Colitis Community Connection

Samantha, a Yorktown Girl Scout, has earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor and achievement a girl can earn in Girl Scouting. 

For her project, Samantha focused on raising awareness about inflammatory bowel disease and creating a support network in her community for people with the condition. This project was especially important to Samantha since she has Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that affects the lining of the digestive tract.

Samantha founded a support group that meets monthly at Riverside Regional Medical Center in Newport News. At the support group meetings, inflammatory bowel disease patients and their family members have the opportunity to socialize with others enduring similar health challenges, find answers to questions and seek emotional support. Once Samantha heads off to college, the support group will continue to meet under the leadership of Anita Petit, the nurse at Grafton High School, who also served as Samantha’s advisor for her Gold Award project.

To raise awareness about inflammatory bowel disease, Samantha hosted a table at a local health and wellness fair, where she handed out information from the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America and a scavenger hunt that she created to engage children in information about the disease.

“I think it is important for people suffering from this disease to feel like they have support from others affected,” Samantha said. “Also, it is important that people not affected are aware of the disease. This disease affects a lot of people, but does not get public attention, which is why I wanted to help get the word out.”

The Gold Award requires girls to identify an issue in the community and carry out a Take Action project to address the matter through leadership work. Nationwide, less than six percent of eligible Girl Scouts earn the Gold Award, which adds Samantha to an elite group of female leaders across the country with the honor. In 2016, Girl Scouts are celebrating 100 years of girls changing the world during the centennial year of the Girl Scout Gold Award.