Thursday, October 23, 2014

Gold Award Spotlight: Disability Awareness

Girl Scout Ambassador Lauren from Smithfield has earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor and achievement in Girl Scouting. For her project, Lauren addressed the issue of bullying, especially in settings where students with special needs are bullied in school.

Lauren began her project by researching a variety of disabilities, including autism, down syndrome, cerebral palsy, blindness, deafness and dyslexia. She then created a binder for each of these topics that she filled with child-friendly explanations of each disability, pictures of children with the disability and a video about how to recognize different disabilities. The binders also included activities designed to help children to better understand challenges that some of their peers face, including sign language and braille activities.

When her binders were complete, Lauren presented her project to an administrator at Driver Elementary School in Suffolk, where it will be used as a resource for students and teachers to better understand students with special needs and gain insight into the learning and social challenges that they face. Lauren hopes that this education will help to decrease, and eventually end, bullying.

“I chose to do this project because of the bullying and discrimination that I experienced in elementary school,” Lauren said. “I wanted to help other students and hopefully prevent them from experiencing the same pain.”

The Gold Award requires girls to identify an issue in their community and carry out a Take Action project to address the matter through leadership work. Nationwide, less than 6 percent of eligible Girl Scouts earn the Gold Award, which adds Lauren to an elite group of female leaders across the country with the honor.