Saturday, April 1, 2017

GSCCC Visits Capitol Hill to Champion Girls

Representatives from Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast traveled to Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, March 29 to speak at a congressional briefing that focused on the top issues that girls and young women face today and how Congress can advance policies that empower girls. Savannah, a Girl Scout Ambassador from Yorktown, and Marcy Germanotta, communications and marketing director for Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast, joined representatives from Girls Inc. and YWCA USA to share what each of their organizations are doing to overcome challenges and implement programs that work to empower girls.

Germanotta spoke about bullying being a national epidemic and a public health issue. She cited research from The State of Girls 2017, a study conducted by the Girl Scout Research Institute that reported that 25 percent of teenage girls reported that they had experienced some sort of bullying or aggression from their peers.

“At Girl Scouts, we are committed to providing anti-bullying resources for our girls, leaders, volunteers and parents,” Germanotta said. “One of these resources is our highly-recognized program, Be a Friend First.”

Through Be a Friend First, which has been implemented in Girl Scout groups across the country since 2014, girls explore thorny issues, such as peer pressure, stereotyping, gossip and cliques through role playing, creative writing games and discussion exercises. Locally, Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast uses the program in troop settings, as well as in-school and afterschool programs throughout the region.

Following Germanotta, Savannah reflected on participating in Be a Friend First with her Girl Scout troop. She shared how Be a Friend First taught her what makes a good friend, how to make a positive impact in her community and how to step outside of her comfort zone to speak out when she sees something wrong.

Savannah, who earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor and achievement a girl can earn in Girl Scouting, also spoke about how Be a Friend First and hearing about a friend’s experience with teen dating violence inspired her to take action though her Gold Award project.

“Sometimes as teens we don’t feel that we have much control over our lives,” Savannah said. “But, Girl Scouts prepared me to identify a problem propose a solution and partner with people that can help.”

For her Gold Award project, Savannah partnered with Transitions Family Violence Services and Michelle Nicole, a local domestic violence author and advocate, to host awareness events at Thomas Nelson Community College, Christopher Newport University and the Hampton Chapter of Jack & Jill of America, Inc. Savannah also created an educational brochure that is being used by her school and Transitions Family Violence Services to guide teens that may need help.

“The highlight of my project was when I planned a Wear Orange Day event at my school,” Savannah said. “During the event, more than 200 students and teachers signed a ‘Love is Respect’ banner, and I shared educational resources with the students.”

The congressional briefing on March 29 was the first in a series of briefings to highlight polices, strategies and innovative programs that help inspire girls and young women and prepare them to be leaders in their communities and beyond. Girl Scouts is committed to helping today's girls learn skills and behaviors that unlock their potential and put it to work for the good of all.