Girl Scouts of Western New York is proud to announce Caroline Kowalski of Orchard Park, NY, as a 2020 Gold Award Girl Scout. Kowalski’s project, Therapy and Rehabilitation Garden, which focused on creating two wheelchair-accessible garden beds. The beds are made of cedar wood, which is naturally bug and rot resistant, meaning they can last up to 15 years without wood treatment.
Kowalski explained, “I researched, planned, and executed the building of two wheelchair-accessible raised garden beds that were subsequently donated to The McGuire Group Garden Gate Health Care Facility in Cheektowaga for use by their Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Activity Departments. The garden beds I helped fabricate conform with the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines so that they can be used by wheelchair-bound residents. The beds also have caster wheels on them so they can be moved to be repositioned as well as brought inside during winter months for continuous use.”
Kowalski stated, “I chose this project for my Gold Award because of my interest in gardening and I plan to pursue a career in medicine. I am very interested in the connection between physical and mental health to wellness and its relationship to isolation and socialization in the elderly. My target demographic was the elderly population of Garden Gate with the intent to have the residents use the gardening beds as a way to decrease the isolation they may be experiencing, thereby increasing socialization through gardening. Social participation is important for brain health and may delay the onset of dementia, add years to life, help the elderly feel useful and needed, and stimulate the mind.”
Kowalski said that the project helped her learn woodworking, which is not a class offered in her school. This involved learning woodshop safety, using tools such as straight saws, rotary electric saws, and a jigsaw, plus skills like measuring and gluing wood. On top of this, she was able to reinforce life skills such as communication, leadership, delegation, time management, self-reliance, and organization.
By earning her Gold Award during the 2020 Girl Scouting year, Kowalski 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.