Girl Scouts of Western New York is proud to announce Danielle Bellis of Akron, NY, as a 2020 Gold Award Girl Scout. Bellis’ project, First Kicks: A Teen-Led Preschool Soccer Program, provided children as young as three and four years old with basic soccer skills while creating a leadership opportunity for teenagers to get hands-on experience teaching young children.
Bellis explained, “I held the six-week program at the Akron Sports Complex for three-year-olds and four-year-olds. The program included over 60 kids that participated in the program with teen coaches and older coaches so that they can train players for the future years. This program benefitted the players because they learned social skills such as teamwork and cooperation at a young age along with physical activity. The teenage coaches gained teaching, leadership skills, and patience. I hope the whole community will benefit if this program continues and encourages healthier lifestyles and volunteerism.”
Bellis added, “A healthy lifestyle includes physical, mental, and emotional health, and playing sports like soccer is a great way to get on the right track. Physical activity is an obvious health benefit of playing sports, but participation in sports can also build self-esteem and even improve academic success. Sports also teach kids the benefits of setting goals, practice, hard work, and even how to deal with stress and failure.”
When asked why Bellis chose her Gold Award project, she stated, “My initial reason for selecting this project is my love of soccer. Recently, there has been a decline of participation in soccer in my community to the point where we didn’t have enough for a good-sized Junior Varsity team and after my grade graduates, we may barely have enough players for a Varsity team. As I considered doing this project, I realized this could also benefit young kids by promoting a healthy lifestyle. I also saw this was an opportunity to get teenagers involved as coaches and this could be a positive experience for all involved.”
By earning her Gold Award during the 2020 Girl Scouting year, Bellis will be included in a virtual acknowledgment this June. All 2020 Gold Award Girl Scouts will receive the option to be a part of the 2021 in-person Gold Award ceremony next year to receive their Gold Award pin. The Girl Scout Gold Award is the most prestigious award in the world for girls.
The Gold Award project is the culmination of all the work a girl puts into “going for the Gold.” A Girl Scout’s project should be something that a girl can be passionate about—in thought, deed, and action that encompasses organizational, leadership, and networking skills. The project should also fulfill a need within a girl’s community (whether local or global) and create change that has the potential to be on-going or sustainable. Approximately 80 hours of community service are involved in the project. Completion of the Gold Award also qualifies the Girl Scout for special scholarship opportunities and she can enlist in the military at a higher starting pay grade.
The Girl Scout Gold Award, the most prestigious award in the world for girls, acknowledges the power behind each recipient’s dedication to not only empowering and bettering herself, but also to making the world a better place for others. These young women are courageous leaders and visionary change makers.
The Gold Award requires a Girl Scout to identify an issue and investigate it to understand what can be done to address the problem. The girl then forms a team to act as a support system, including a project advisor close to the issue who is not a troop leader or family member, while she leads the project. The Girl Scout creates a plan to ensure they know what steps they must tackle while working on the project. The Girl Scout submits a proposal for her project to her local Girl Scout council. After acceptance, the girl begins to work through the steps of their plan utilizing the assistance of her support team where necessary. Lastly, the project is used to educate and inspire others about the cause they are addressing.
To learn more, visit gswny.org.