how the program is changing lives ::

This article was written for our sponsor, Girl Scouts Coastal Pines in North Carolina.

The Girl Scouts mission is to “build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.” For the Gold Award Girl Scout Trinity Garza, the program did all of this and more.

Garza, an 18-year-old freshman at Western Governors University, started Girl Scouting at age 11. She said she was interested in volunteering opportunities and STEM workshops. Garza pointed out that she had always enjoyed helping people and felt Girl Scouts were a way for her to amplify her selfless desires.

“I love helping others. Making friends is a plus, but helping others was my number one priority,” Garza said.

As mentioned, Garza is a Gold Award Girl Scout – one of the program’s top honors. To earn this recognition, a Girl Scout must tackle an issue they hold dear and complete a related project that “brings about lasting change in her community and beyond.”

A Gold Award Girl Scout must identify a problem, study it in depth, create a plan, build a support team, present the plan and gather feedback, execute the plan, and then share her story and results. The project also includes a project proposal and a final report.

“I had to do a project, which is all about leadership. There were two parts – I did two collections for foster kids. And for the second part, I did two presentations. for the public titled ‘Child Abuse’: Ending the Silence, “Garza said.” I collected backpacks, toys, school supplies and toiletries. I chose my project because I was originally someone who was abused. “

Garza’s personal experience with verbal and physical abuse began at a young age. As a baby, his birth mother left Garza “neglected and clearly undernourished.” Law enforcement intervened and Garza was placed in foster care for a short time before her father was granted full custody of her. His wife adopted Garza a year later. However, due to her abuse in her early childhood, Garza suffered lingering emotional effects and her new mother became worried because she was not speaking or giving verbal signals.

“I was placed in special education classes for about two years where I met therapists, but after that I attended a regular public school where I found I enjoyed learning and being good at it. class, ”Garza said. “I was very shy and shy around everyone, but a few years later that’s when I joined the Girl Scouts.”

The Girl Scouts helped Garza come out of her shell and she won the bronze and silver awards before receiving her gold award at the age of 15. A defining moment for her was being invited to participate in the Lady Cardinal Mentorship Program, a 4-week summer enrichment opportunity for high school girls in North Carolina who wish to explore careers in science, technology, engineering and / or mathematics in state government. Garza was invited to give a public presentation on environmental sustainability at the Governor’s Mansion in front of 100 staff.

Garza, who once didn’t speak, put his voice behind an issue close to his heart in front of stakeholders and leaders who would have created nervousness even in the most confident adults.

“After the Gold Award presentations, I ended up doing another presentation for Governor Roy Cooper and about 100 of his staff – for that I was actually not nervous. I was actually excited and happy to do it, ”she said.

To date, Garza has said her Project Gold Award is the most rewarding experience she has had as a Girl Scout.

“Putting down the things I had put together for the kids in the foster home and seeing how happy social services were to have these things that they could give to the kids was great,” Garza said. “Even on one of my collection trips, there was a guy who had brought a car full of stuff for the collection trip. As he left he looked at me and my mother with tears in his eyes and told us he had also been in foster care and thanked us for what we were doing. “

The transformative power of the Girl Scout program is something Meta Trombley, head of membership for Girl Scouts North Carolina Coastal Pines, sees every day.

“When I think of Girl Scouts, I think of how much a girl has yet to accomplish. Through Girl Scouting, just like their parents and families, we want girls to be happy, healthy, and “They’re full of themselves. We want them to have that spirit and attitude that can do whatever they want,” she said. “Girl Scouts is a space where a girl is safe to try these things. Here she has that safety, that fellowship, that leadership of her troop leader and the friendships of fellow Girl Scouts.”

Trombley called Girl Scouts a “movement, not a moment” and said the program aims to empower girls to pursue their possibilities and exploration, whether in STEM, entrepreneurship, the outdoors or l ‘one of dozens of other routes.

She said being a girl is hard and it can be hard to find your voice.

“Anything we can do to support this development I’m 1,000 percent behind,” Trombley said. “The transformative nature of our program also affects the adults who are involved. As volunteers and parents, when they get involved, they can share those moments with their daughter, they can see her development, they can see her trying new things. “

Even during the current social distancing pandemic, Trombley and his colleagues are finding ways to keep girls, parents and volunteers engaged.

“When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, a lot of our activities were halted, but we were able to launch our home girl scouting program,” Trombley said. “It’s a virtual platform that allows girls and their families to continue this Girl Scout experience at home. Girls can still participate in getting badges, participate in some of our live events that are run by some of our staff, and continue to make them memories that continue to shape their Girl Scout experience. “

In addition to engaging virtually, Girl Scout troops do face-to-face activities (while taking safety precautions like mask wearing and social distancing) and go outside.

Girl Scouts USA has also launched an outreach program that provides information for parents and guardians to help girls succeed even in these uncertain times – things like how to navigate this different school year and be away from friends or family. , which makes the most of being home and answering all questions about COVID-19.

Even though Garza has graduated and is no longer a Girl Scout member, she intends to maintain a strong connection with the organization in any way she can. After all, the program changed her life.

“The best part of Girl Scouts was the people I met and the support they gave me. Girl Scouts definitely helped me. Early in my life I was abused so I couldn’t talk. And then I went from there to joining the program and then leading a little group of girls, hopping around and doing presentations for committees, and then speaking in front of the governor, ”Garza said.“ After college, when i get my human resources degree, i want to work in human resources for them, or at least volunteer at minimum. “

This article was written for our sponsor, Girl Scouts Coastal Pines in North Carolina.

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