Girl Scouts of Western New York is proud to announce Grace Kurzweil of Rochester, NY, as a 2021 Gold Award Girl Scout. Grace is from Troop 60420 and has been a member of Girl Scouts for 13 years.
What Grace said about Girl Scouts
Girl Scouting has challenged me to grow as a leader and role model for younger Girl Scouts, become more attuned to the needs of my community, and to further my confidence in my ability to take action to enact positive change.
Project: Supporting Creative Literacy in Refugee Children
For my Gold Award project, I worked with refugee children through Mary’s Place Outreach (Rochester, NY) summer camp to complete acrostic poems, blackout poetry, and a literacy scavenger hunt in which the children learned about the parts of speech, nutrition and good health, plus basic math and science terminology. I then created a website displaying the children’s work (with their parent/guardian’s permission and without the children’s names on the poems) and shared it with libraries around Rochester to be published in their newsletters or on their Facebook pages. Finally, the kids had the opportunity to read their blackout poetry at the talent show at the conclusion of the camp.
My Gold Award project was designed to encourage the creative use of literacy by refugee children. When refugees come to the United States to build a new life, communication skills and learning a new language are key components of their future careers. Attending counselor orientation at the beginning of Mary’s Place Outreach’s summer camp, I learned that because children grasp languages faster than adults, many refugee parents rely on their children for translation, filling out forms and other paperwork, and conversations that children born in the US may not be as exposed to.
While this practical channeling of literacy in refugee children builds leadership skills and a better command of the English language, it is also important for refugee children to recognize language not only for its practical uses, but also for its creative uses. Inspired to share my love of literature and language with the refugee children at Mary’s Place and nurture creative literacy skills within them, I designed several creative literacy projects (various types of poetry, a literacy scavenger hunt, etc.) with the intention of teaching the children basic math, science, nutrition, and grammar skills in a fun environment conducive to using the imagination.
The lasting and sustainable effect on the community was the education of the refugee children and nurturing of their creative literacy skills. Many people learn by doing. Rather than just listening to me talk about grammar or math, the refugee children at the summer camp had the opportunity to do hands-on work with poetry worksheets and problem solving in the literacy scavenger hunt. Going beyond this educational factor, I wanted to share my project with the greater Rochester community. I learned how to build and create my own website in which I discuss my inspiration for the project, the various activities and components of it, and shared the resources and worksheets I created for the summer camp. I then sent this website to several libraries in the Rochester community to pass along to their patrons via newsletter or Facebook page. It is my hope that people will be inspired by my project and use the materials to adapt to their own creative literacy activities.
About the Gold Award
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.
For more information on the Gold Award, click here.