Five Girl Scouts from Sarpy County have achieved the highest achievement in the youth organization.
They were among 22 girls who received the Girl Scout Gold Award at a July 14 ceremony. The Sarpy County winners were Madison Eisert, Karen Kalilangwe and Fiona Miller, all of Papillion, and Tia Chism and Eme Starbuck, both of Bellevue.
Their community projects — a required component to receive such an accolade — had a strong focus on diversity.
“Using strategic thinking, collaboration, problem solving and time management, this year’s Gold Award Girl Scouts tackled pressing issues to become the future leaders the world needs,” according to a press release.
Both Kalilangwe and Chism have put their efforts into breed education.
Motivated for change by the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, Kalilangwe created a reading program called #ReadWoke for students and staff. If they read at least two books on racial and ethnic diversity and then filled out a summary form, they received a free t-shirt.
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Kalilangwe also hosted children’s author Rita Williams-Garcia virtually, who spoke to primary school students about the importance of reading about different cultures.
Meanwhile, after recognizing that schools lack education about people of color, Chism designed a curriculum to improve diversity education. It teaches young students about people of color and their accomplishments through games, educational books and puppet shows.
Miller also worked to improve schools, focusing on special education. She noticed that students at Patch Elementary School felt overwhelmed when trying to complete their schoolwork. She therefore worked with a specialized educator to create a sensory journey.
The space allows students to perform simple, calming activities like jumping and tapping. It is intended to reduce their anxiety.
A longtime member of the Rose Theatre, Starbuck has focused on arts education and literacy. She built and installed small free libraries at both Rose locations. She hopes this will encourage people to enter the theater to learn more, while providing accessible reading material.
Finally, Eisert’s project was called “Merry Thriftmas”. In partnership with Goodwill, this pilot program has helped families in need.
Eisert worked with volunteers to adorn the storefronts with holiday decorations and gifts donated by the businesses. The items were then distributed to families in need. This program became Goodwills in two states.
“Gold Award Girl Scouts are high school activists who are changing the world through extraordinary leadership and passion by tackling local, national or global issues,” the Girl Scouts said in a press release.