Member Essentials – 3/2/21

Dear GSWNY Members,

Please see the important announcements below and for questions, please contact Customer Care customercare@gswny.org or call 1-888-837-6410. In an emergency, please call 1-800-882-9268.

Thank you for all you do!


Happy Women’s History Month! Every March, we celebrate the women of yesterday and today who have impacted American History and continue to make the world a better place. With millions of amazing women, instead of picking some to highlight, we want to hear from our Girl Scouts!

Let us know the woman who inspires you the most and you can win a prize! Share your creative piece with us by March 31, 2021, that celebrates a woman in history that has impacted your life, community, or the world. Ideas include a short video, artwork, written piece, or whatever creative piece you’d like to do!

Click the button below to read more about Women’s History Month and the contest rules, including how to submit. 

READ MORE


It’s back! Making Smiles Bright 2021

During the month of March, we’re focusing on dental health! Girl Scouts who participate will increase their knowledge of dental health and take action to provide dental hygiene supplies to other children in their communities. Girls in all levels are invited to participate and earn this exclusive patch.

The patch will be available for sale in our GSWNY Council Shops. Count the number of items you collect so we can see how many smiles we’ll make brighter!

LEARN MORE


Summer Camp 2021

Pre-registration for Summer Camp is open now! Review the camp guides and pre-register for camp (and earn that sweet, exclusive summer camp patch for pre-registered girls ONLY)!

We have every intention of operating summer camp 2021 in-person while following all of COVID guidelines and regulations. However, if the need should arise, we will be prepared to provide your girls with an amazing alternative camp program. We have set April 30, 2021, as our decision date.

LEARN MORE ABOUT CAMP


Green Angel: GSWNY Adult Recognition Award Monthly Highlight – March 2021

Green Angel Awards can be given as a pin, patch, or certificate. There is no paperwork involved. This is a nice, semi-formal way to say thank you to a volunteer or adult who has provided a great service to Girl Scouts. The Green Angel can be awarded to troop co-leaders, committee members, troop parents, and more! This award is given as a thank you in recognition of a short or long-term service to a troop or Service Unit. 

READ MORE


Scholarship Opportunity: Howe Scholarship

Are you dedicated to serving the community? Current Girl Scout Ambassadors attending Buffalo State in the Fall are invited to apply for this $5,000 a year, renewable scholarship. 

Use the button below for additional eligibility requirements and information about how to apply.

LEARN MORE


Retail Item of the Week: Girl Scout Cookie Cart

This is a beautiful fabric, metal framed cart with plastic wheels and a handle to carry your cookies for delivery time or for a walk about. It has a clear double zip panel on the side. Reduced Price for ONLY $21.00 each (either style) until March 31st. While supplies last!

Email your local Girl Scout Shop to order today!

Click here to check out more gear for the cookie season, including the Cookie Booth Kit


Virtual Art Exhibition Opportunity
COVID-19 PAGES: The Influence and Inspiration of Women

The Wells International Foundation & Anderson Brickler Gallery will present a virtual exhibition of 100 pages of artwork from artists, community programs and organizations, K-12 schools, and university students. Girl Scouts are invited to participate. The PAGES are art-making ideas to celebrate women around the world who are providing essential leadership, influence, and inspiration during the COVID-19 pandemic. This creative platform will acknowledge women and girls as change agents during a time of turmoil for families and communities around the world. (These women are doctors, nurses, teachers, mothers, healthcare providers, politicians, mayors, police chiefs, community service leaders, and workers at local stores, post offices, etc. ….)

Please submit your interest by Thursday, March 4 through this link. Artwork must be received by April 23 and the virtual exhibition is June 21 to September 30.  –Volunteers, please put your name under “director” and please include Girl Scouts of Western New York as the organization.

For a curriculum guide please click here. For questions about the opportunity, contact: wells@wellsinternationalfoundation.org


Cookie Program Updates

Watch out for Wacky Weather Warrior Days! When Mother Nature decides not to be so nice, we declare it wacky and give you the chance to win a special Cookie Program Survival Kit! 

We’ll share the photo on your Facebook and then you can share your photos from being out in the wacky weather in the comments. Each time we post, we’ll randomly select one winner.

Coffee Break with Your Product Program Team is happening now!

Every Friday at 10 a.m., our Product Program Team is going live to go over different topics and answer your cookie questions. 

All videos will premiere on our Facebook page and be available after for viewing on demand. Check out past videos on our YouTube here.


Appreciating You: A Day to Recharge + Renew – For Adults & Volunteers
Saturday, May 15 | 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Volunteers and adult members have asked for mental health programs and we’ve answered! GSWNY is proud to work with our sponsors The Thinkers and the Girl Scouts NY State Training Cohort to bring this exciting program to our council! 

Vetted facilitators from Google, NASA, Emmy Award Winners, New York University, and Georgetown University will deliver 3 sessions to participants:

  • Beat Burn-Out When Caretaking & Supporting Others
  • Supporting Youth Through Mental Health Challenges

Building Strong Bonds with Youth: How to build positive relationships and cultivate positive attention with youth

REGISTER FOR APPRECIATING YOU

Looking for more programs? Visit gswny.org today!


Girl Scouting at Home

Looking for ways to stay involved with Girl Scouts? Check out our Girl Scouting at Home page today! New resources are added regularly. 

Her Voice, Our Votes
Wednesday, March 17 | 7 to 8 p.m.

Join The National Collaborative for Women’s History Sites for an exciting two-part virtual event! First, enjoy a showing of the interactive, musical film Her Voice, Our Vote, written and produced by Laura Bache, a Girl Scout and talented young actor. Then, engage in a follow-up conversation with Lucinda Robb and Rebecca Boggs Roberts, the authors of the newly released book The Suffragist Playbook, whose friendship goes back to their grandmothers, Lady Bird Johnson and Lindy Boggs. You won’t want to miss this engaging and inspirational event!

REGISTER TODAY


Virtual Cyber Club for Seniors and Ambassadors

The Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate’s (AFRL/RI) STEM Outreach Program, in partnership with the Griffiss Institute (GI), is excited to announce a another new STEM initiative for 2021, the Air Force Virtual Cyber Club!

The Air Force Virtual Cyber Club is a free after school club that will provide students with hands on learning in the areas of cyber defense, programming, computer administration, networking, critical thinking, applied learning, and engineering methods and reasoning.

Computer requirements: PC or Mac with a microphone, camera and internet connection. A tablet or smartphone will not do because the students will need access to a keyboard to type with. 

The Air Force Virtual Cyber Club will run for 8-weeks, on Mondays, beginning Monday, March 1, and ending Monday, April 26. Each meeting is 3 to 4:30 p.m. Max is 20 students.

REGISTER TODAY


New Multi-Level Think Like a Programmer Badge in a Box!

Need help getting started on a Journey to earn a Girl Scout Highest Award? Look no further than our new Think Like A Programmer Badge in a Box! In this box is everything girls need to earn the Cadette, Senior, or Ambassador Think Like a Programmer badge and the tools needed to complete and earn the Take Action Project badge too! That’s right, you get 2 badges in 1 box!

Activities include: creating a card sorting algorithm, designing clothing that integrates computer technology, and creating and sending binary messages!

Each box is $10. Grant funds are available for some areas of our Council reducing the cost of boxes down to $6.00. If there is not a grant available in your area, members can apply for Council Opportunity Funds.

There are a limited number of boxes available and will be for curbside pick-up only at the Buffalo, Rochester, Lockport, and Jamestown Service Centers. Click here to order your Badge in a Box


Looking for more options? Head to girlscouts.org for even more at-home opportunities for your Girl Scout.


Girl Scouts Doing Good Things

Olmsted Girl Scout Troop 30134 enjoyed a day off school last week by going to Tifft Nature Preserve. They enjoyed a winter hike accompanied by deer, chickadees, nuthatches, and cardinals.


We are #GirlScoutStrong! Looking forward to talking to you next Tuesday! In the meantime, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Customer Care customercare@gswny.org or call 1-888-837-6410. In an emergency, please call 1-800-882-9268.

Celebrating the women who inspire us for Women’s History Month

The start of Women’s History Month began 40 years ago, when Congress passed the public law allowing and requesting the president to make the week of March 7, 1982, ‘Women’s History Week.’ This continued for five years until in 1987, Congress passed another public law designating March as Women’s History Month. For the past 26 years, the month has been marked by annual proclamations from the president.

Women’s History Month is and always has been about celebrating the contributions of women in American history. It’s a time to further recognize their work and learn more about all that they have done (and continue to do) for our world.

As Girl Scouts, we recognize there are millions of women who make the world a better place through their inventions, dreams, ideas, works of art, and everything in between. We are continually inspired by the women whose imaginations and innovations move us forward, and our girls who develop service projects to meet the needs of their community and the world.

Women’s History Month Council Contest

Because there’s no way we can highlight every wonderful woman who qualifies, we want to hear from you. Let us know the woman who inspires you the most and you can win a prize! Share your creative piece with us by March 31, 2021 that celebrates a woman in history that has impacted your life, community, or the world. Ideas include a short video, artwork, written piece, or whatever creative piece you’d like to do! A winner will be chosen at random from the submissions.

The rules are listed below. If you have any questions, please email communications@gswny.org.

CONTEST RULES:

  • Participants must be a current (K-12) girl member of the GSWNY council. This contest is not open to adults. One entry per girl member.
  • Girls can create and submit a piece celebrating a woman in history that has had an impact on her life, her community, or the world. Submissions must be received by March 31, 2021.
  • Accepted submissions include: a short video, an artwork with a brief description of the woman and her impact, or a longer written piece explaining the woman’s achievement(s) and her impact. OR if your girl has her own idea we will accept other creative pieces!
  • For younger girls, parents may assist by typing or writing down what the girl wants to say, but please keep the language to exactly what the girl would like to say. (Do not “dress it up” or worry about correcting for grammar. We want girls to speak for themselves on this project.)
  • Videos can’t include music unless the girl is singing without background music. We are unable to accept videos with music due to copyright limitations.
  • Photos and videos taken outside a girl’s home must follow our COVID media guidelines. All girls and adults (even if they are in the same household) must be masked and socially distanced. We understand this limits the types of submissions we can accept, but due to feedback from our membership and the inability to visually determine who is in the same household, we require this for submissions.
  • Submissions should be sent to communications@gswny.org and must include: The girl’s name, grade level, her troop number, the woman’s name, and the visual and/or written pieces of her submission. If a project is too large to send by email, please use a service like Google Drive or DropBox and send a share link instead.
  • All submissions may be used by GSWNY for marketing purposes including sharing online, on social media, in printed materials, by email, etc. GSWNY does not guarantee all submissions will be shared with others.
  • Winner will be chosen at random from all qualifying submissions during the first week of April and will be contacted by email and/or phone. Winner and other entries will be shared on social media and/or a GSWNY blog post.
  • Any questions? Please contact communications@gswny.org.

It’s back! Making Smiles Bright 2021

It’s time for our third annual Making Smiles Bright dental health collection and patch program in March! Keep reading for more information and to see how you can get involved.


During the month of March, we’re focusing on dental health! Girl Scouts who participate will increase their knowledge of dental health and take action to provide dental hygiene supplies to other children in their communities. Girls in all levels are invited to participate and earn this exclusive patch.

The patch will be available for sale in our GSWNY Council Shops. Count the number of items you collect so we can see how many smiles we’ll make brighter!

Elements to the Patch Program:

Learn about teeth. What are the parts of a tooth? In a book or online,
find a diagram of a tooth and learn about its parts. Find the crown, root, enamel, pulp, and cementum. What is the importance of each part?

Find out why it is important to brush and floss every day. Make a personal brushing and flossing chart to record when you brush and floss for two weeks.

Discover how our diet helps or hurts our teeth. A healthy diet means healthier teeth but some foods like sugar can harm them. Learn about a balanced diet. Make a collage or draw a picture that shows which foods are either good or bad for our teeth.

Find out about careers related to dental health. For Daisies and Brownies and Juniors – Draw a picture of what you think a dental health professional looks like. For Cadettes, Seniors and Ambassadors – Find out about college programs, that are offered at nearby schools, in the field of dental health.

Help others keep their teeth healthy too! Collect dental hygiene items such as toothbrushes, dental floss, and toothpaste to donate to community dental clinics in Western New York. Bring your donations to a local food pantry or shelter in your own community.

Make sure you count the number of items you collect so we can see how many smiles we’ll make brighter!

The patch will be available for sale in our GSWNY Council Shops. Call or email your local shop to order for Curbside Pickup!

Download the Flyer

Green Angel: GSWNY Adult Recognition Award Monthly Highlight – March 2021

In the month of March as we celebrate the Girl Scouts birthday we will focus on what is quite possibly the easiest adult award that can be given – the Green Angel Award!

Green Angel Awards can be given as a pin, patch, or certificate. There is no paperwork involved. This is a nice, semi-formal way to say thank you to a volunteer or adult who has provided a great service to Girl Scouts. The Green Angel can be awarded to troop co-leaders, committee members, troop parents, and more! This award is given as a thank you in recognition of a short or long-term service to a troop or Service Unit. For example, a troop was camping and the co-leaders forgot to pack their s’mores supplies. A co-leader called a troop parent who went to the store, purchased the supplies, and drove them all the way out to Camp Seven Hills! You could give the parent a Green Angel pin as an official way to show gratitude. 

Green Angel Awards may be presented by a Troop Leader or the Service Unit Adult Recognition Committee. No paperwork or nomination form is necessary! Pins and patches may be purchased any GSWNY shop; the certificate can be downloaded and printed from the GSWNY forms library. First a person may earn the certificate, then the patch, then the pin. For more information about this awards and all other GSWNY adult awards, please read our Adult Awards and Recognitions Quick Guide or check out our Adult Recognition web page.

Considering giving some Green Angel Awards at a Service Unit Recognition Event. Review the last page of our Quick Guide and our volunteer appreciation bullseye to learn more about hosting a year-end volunteer appreciation event. The event can be as formal or relaxed as you’d like. It can be a fun potluck or a formal Court of Awards. The most important part is ensuring volunteers feel appreciated! You can always reach out to a member of the Volunteer Experience team for more ideas! Email us at volunteer@gswny.org. Thank you!

Member Essentials – 2/23/21

Dear GSWNY Members,

At Girl Scouts of Western New York (GSWNY), we build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place.

GSWNY acknowledges and condemns the recent surge in violence against the Asian community across the country. We uplift and amplify the Asian American Federation’s statement with Asian, Black, and Hispanic Association nonprofits condemning attacks and calling for solutions. We want to reiterate to all girls, volunteers, alums, supporters, families, and staff that we do not tolerate racial injustice, and we strive to create a welcoming space where all of our members feel they belong. 

Girl Scout members stand up and for the principles of the Girl Scout mission and law. You can find resources from the Asian American Federation here.

Please see the important announcements below and for questions, please contact Customer Care customercare@gswny.org or call 1-888-837-6410. In an emergency, please call 1-800-882-9268.

Thank you for all you do!


On behalf of the GSWNY Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee, we are celebrating Black History Month by highlighting Black women who were pioneers in fields that reflect our four program pillars: Life Skills, Entrepreneurship, STEM, and Outdoors. Each week we’ll share a blog post with her story, as well as other information and activities to help you celebrate the month, too!

We selected Bessie Coleman for Outdoors because of her adventurous achievements in the world of aviation. While we would love to include all of her feats, travels, and training, as well as more of her personal story, Coleman’s biography is so full and rich that this summary hits mostly only the highlights.

READ MORE


It’s your last chance to win! 

Our Grow Your Girl Crew membership campaign ends THIS SUNDAY, February 28, which means you only five more days to invite girls to join Girl Scouts. Everyone you invite must register as a Girl Scout by the end of day Sunday.

When your friends join, you get amazing prizes like charms, a patch, a sweatshirt, and much more. Plus, our top two girls with the most friends joined will win either a pair of Air Pods or a $100 gift card! 

LEARN MORE


Take a tour of great GSWNY Resources

Did you know you can find videos on how to run troop meetings online on our website? Tips for leading safe and fun in-person meetings? Badges-in-a-box that provide all of the supplies girls need to work on badges? A regularly updated calendar of programs and events? So much more? If not, check out this video tour of all of the great resources on our website!


LAST CHANCE: Order Silver Trefoil Memory Garden Commemorative Bricks Today

Silver Trefoil is a group of Girl Scout Alumnae with 20+ years of Girl Scout membership who assist Service Units in Girl Scout traditions and maintain the Memory Garden located at Camp Windy Meadows, Lockport Service Center.

We want to create a new path in the Memory Garden and we need your help! We are raising money to fund the upkeep of the garden by offering the opportunity to purchase a 4” x 8” brick engraved with a message of your choice! Included in the price is a commemorative 4” x 4” tile coaster for you to keep. Anyone can order a commemorative brick to honor a troop, group, In Memoriam, Gold Award Girl Scout, Lifetime Member, or Service Unit. 

Use the link below to learn more about the Commemorative Bricks, see examples, and place your order today!

LEARN MORE ABOUT COMMEMORATIVE BRICKS


Retail Item of the Week: Girl Scout Cookies Half Apron

This tie-back half apron features two front pockets, great for holding cookie money and change, notepads, or even more cookies. “Girl Scout Cookies!” screen print on front. Natural/tan apron with purple, green and white graphics. 100% cotton canvas. One size fits most. 16 1/2″ x 7 1/2″.

Price: $14.00 each

Email your local Girl Scout Shop to order today!

Click here to check out more gear for the cookie season, including the Cookie Booth Kit


Girl Scout Volunteer Spotlight

Behind every girl is a caring adult who is passionate about seeing girls succeed. We want to celebrate the work of our amazing Girl Scout volunteers and we need your help! Weekly, GSWNY will spotlight 1-2 Girl Scout volunteers who will be featured in the Member Essentials email and on GSWNY’s social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and etc.

Please take a few minutes to fill out the information in the survey below about a Girl Scout volunteer who should be spotlighted for their great work in supporting girls. Please note that the spotlights will be text only with no photos. If you have any questions, contact GSWNY Communications (1-888-837-6410 or communications@gswny.org). Thank you. 

VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT SURVEY


Cookie Program Updates

Watch out for Wacky Weather Warrior Days! When Mother Nature decides not to be so nice, we declare it wacky and give you the chance to win a special Cookie Program Survival Kit! 

We’ll share the photo on your Facebook and then you can share your photos from being out in the wacky weather in the comments. Each time we post, we’ll randomly select one winner.

Coffee Break with Your Product Program Team is happening now!

Every Friday at 10 a.m., our Product Program Team is going live to go over different topics and answer your cookie questions. 

All videos will premiere on our Facebook page and be available after for viewing on demand. Check out past videos on our YouTube here.


Appreciating You: A Day to Recharge + Renew – For Adults & Volunteers
Saturday, May 15 | 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Volunteers and adult members have asked for mental health programs and we’ve answered! GSWNY is proud to work with our sponsors The Thinkers and the Girl Scouts NY State Training Cohort to bring this exciting program to our council! 

Vetted facilitators from Google, NASA, Emmy Award Winners, New York University, and Georgetown University will deliver 3 sessions to participants:

  • Beat Burn-Out When Caretaking & Supporting Others
  • Supporting Youth Through Mental Health Challenges

Building Strong Bonds with Youth: How to build positive relationships and cultivate positive attention with youth

REGISTER FOR APPRECIATING YOU

Looking for more programs? Visit gswny.org today!


Girl Scouting at Home

Looking for ways to stay involved with Girl Scouts? Check out our Girl Scouting at Home page today! New resources are added regularly. 

New Multi-Level Think Like a Programmer Badge in a Box!

Need help getting started on a Journey to earn a Girl Scout Highest Award? Look no further than our new Think Like A Programmer Badge in a Box! In this box is everything girls need to earn the Cadette, Senior, or Ambassador Think Like a Programmer badge and the tools needed to complete and earn the Take Action Project badge too! That’s right, you get 2 badges in 1 box!

Activities include: creating a card sorting algorithm, designing clothing that integrates computer technology, and creating and sending binary messages!

Each box is $10. Grant funds are available for some areas of our Council reducing the cost of boxes down to $6.00. If there is not a grant available in your area, members can apply for Council Opportunity Funds.

There are a limited number of boxes available and will be for curbside pick-up only at the Buffalo, Rochester, Lockport, and Jamestown Service Centers. Click here to order your Badge in a Box


Awesome Girls: Start Your Engines with Automotive Design
Saturday, February 27, 2021, at 11:00am

Start your engines and get ready to design a brand-new vehicle! Explore how vehicles go from just an idea to something that can drive on the street.

Girls who participate will get a chance to complete an activity from the brand-new Automotive Engineering badge series, hear from a professional at General Motors and earn a FREE Automotive Engineering Patch! *Limited supply available.

This event is open to all girls in grades K-5, no previous experience needed! Don’t miss out. Secure your girl’s spot today by registering online.

Please note: This event is hosted by Girl Scouts of the USA and is not operated by our GSWNY council.

REGISTER FOR START YOUR ENGINES

If you are interested in your girl attending this program and they are not available for the live event, please go ahead and still register. A playback link will be sent out after the program that can be viewed.


Looking for more options? Head to girlscouts.org for even more at-home opportunities for your Girl Scout.


Girl Scouts Doing Good Things

Troop 31009 came in first place for the Mission Possible 2020 Food Drive Challenge! These girls competed against 14 other teams across the WNY area (schools, churches and youth organization teams) to achieve their bronze award.

They not only won the entire competition, but collected the most canned goods, earning a free Chick-fil-A lunch! These wonderful ladies were able to raise 1,766 non-perishable food items which is enough to feed 442 people!


We are #GirlScoutStrong! Looking forward to talking to you next Tuesday! In the meantime, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Customer Care customercare@gswny.org or call 1-888-837-6410. In an emergency, please call 1-800-882-9268.

Bessie Coleman: GSWNY Celebrates Black History Month

On behalf of the GSWNY Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee, to celebrate Black History Month, each week we’re highlighting a groundbreaking Black woman for her accomplishments related to the four pillars of Girl Scouts. This week, we’re featuring Bessie Coleman for Outdoors.


Bessie Coleman: 1892-1926 

We selected Bessie Coleman for Outdoors because of her adventurous achievements in the world of aviation. While we would love to include all of her feats, travels, and training, as well as more of her personal story, Coleman’s biography is so full and rich that this summary hits mostly only the highlights. There is a bigger picture of multiple American and international events that tie into everything. World War I, Black Americans suffering repeated violence from the Ku Klux Klan and other racists, and even the general changing societal attitudes of the “Roaring ‘20s” all factor into her life and the way she lived. We encourage engaging with the resources provided after her biography to better understand the whole story and more fully appreciate Bessie Coleman’s life and legacy.  

(Please note some resources speak frankly about racism, acts of violence including race riots, murder of Black people, and severe discrimination. We recommend pre-screening resources if you have concerns about appropriateness for your family.) 

In 1892, Bessie Coleman was born in Texas, one of thirteen children. Her mother was Black and her father was Black and indigenous*. At age seven, her father returned to Oklahoma, then known as ‘Indian Territory.’  Her mother decided to stay in Texas with the family. The children helped pick cotton and once the girls in the family were old enough, they assisted their mother with the washing she took in to further support the family financially.  

Coleman completed school in a one-room schoolhouse and saved her money to continue on to college. In 1910, she enrolled what is now known as Langston University in Langston, OK. Only able to afford one semester, she left school and moved in with her older brother in Chicago. She became a beautician and worked as a manicurist, coming to be known as the “fastest manicurist in Black Chicago.”  

As World War I began to hit magazines showing the planes used in the war, Coleman loved the idea of flying. She attempted to seek flight training, but was rejected repeatedly, sometimes for her race, sometimes for her gender, sometimes for both. After her brother teased her that she’d never fly like the French women, Coleman departed for France to learn to fly. Only 16 years earlier, the Wright Brothers had their first successful sustained flight, meaning that flying planes was still a fairly new phenomenon. Because the technology was so new and aircrafts were particularly fragile, students often crashed and even died during training. Coleman saw many of her fellow students suffer this fate, but was determined to conquer the skies. She had learned French, saved money, and overcome repeated adversity to get there and would not turn back.  

Coleman became the first African-American woman and first Native-American to hold a pilot’s license. She earned her pilot license from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale on June 15, 1921, and was the first Black person to earn an international pilot’s license. To receive this license, she had to demonstrate life-saving maneuvers including turning off the engine before touching down. 

After initially learning to fly, Coleman learned that more money could be made by flying for entertainment and extended her training in France. In 1922, she appeared in an air show at Curtiss Field near New York City. After a successful demonstration, she performed more shows in Memphis, Chicago, and then in Texas. She didn’t own her own plane and decided to travel to California to earn money and buy one, but after crashing it, she returned to Chicago to formulate a new plan.  

Two years later, she did a lecture series and exhibition flights in Texas, and was able to make a down payment on a Jenny (a JN-4 plane with an OX-5 engine). By now, Coleman knew she wanted to open an African American flying school. She did lectures at Black theaters in Florida and Georgia. She opened a beauty shop in Orlando to speed up her money-earning toward the school. Using borrowed planes she continued to perform flying exhibitions and even some parachute jumps. As she had done at other exhibitions in the past, Coleman refused to perform unless the audiences were welcomed in using the same gates and remained desegregated in the venue.  

Coleman had finally made the final payment on her Jenny plane in Dallas and arranged to have it flown to Jacksonville, FL. On April 30, 1926, she and her mechanic went on a test flight. Once in the air, the plane suffered a malfunction and the mechanic lost control. Sadly, both Coleman and the mechanic lose their lives in the accident.

At her memorial service in Orlando, 5,000 mourners attended. In Chicago at her funeral, 15,000 people paid their respects. Sadly, while Coleman did not get the opportunity to establish the African American flying school she dreamt of during her life, William J. Powell started the Bessie Coleman Aero Club in Los Angeles in 1929. Either trained by the school or inspired by Bessie Coleman, famous groups of Black flyers followed in Coleman’s footsteps including the Five Blackbirds, the Flying Hobos, The Tuskeegee Airmen, and others. She is remembered by the nicknames Brave Bessie or Queen Bess.  

In 1931, the Challenger Pilots’ Association of Chicago began an annual flyover at Chicago’s Lincoln Cemetery to honor Coleman. In 1977, women pilots in Chicago established the Bessie Coleman Aviators Club. In 1995, the U.S. Postal Service issued a Bessie Coleman stamp commemorating her accomplishments solidifying her as an American legend. 

The above has been adapted from her biography on the National Aviation Hall of Fame’s website https://www.nationalaviation.org/our-enshrinees/coleman-bessie/ in combination with the Bessie Coleman organization’s website: http://www.bessiecoleman.org/bio-bessie-coleman.php  

*NOTE: We opted to use the term ‘indigenous.’ After that we used the term ‘Indian Territory’ as that was the literal name of the area at the time. People of indigenous North American descent have varying preferences for how they are referred to such as ‘Native American,’ ‘American Indian,’ ‘Indian,’ and other terms, although many prefer to be called by their specific Nation or tribal names. This topic itself is its own journey of discovery and we encourage research and consideration into this subject. On the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian’s FAQ page (https://americanindian.si.edu/) they offer this:  

What is the correct terminology: American Indian, Indian, Native American, or Native? 

All of these terms are acceptable. The consensus, however, is that whenever possible, Native people prefer to be called by their specific tribal name. In the United States, Native American has been widely used but is falling out of favor with some groups, and the terms American Indian or indigenous American are preferred by many Native people. 

The following resources expand on Coleman’s life and work.  


Black History Month Facts & Information

It is difficult to capture in just one month the achievements of African Americans and their contributions to American history and culture. Here are a few historic African American female firsts spanning various topics that we hope will inspire you to study and celebrate Black history beyond Black History Month.  

  1. Phillis Wheatley, a woman who was enslaved, was the first African American to publish a book of poetry, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, in 1773. She was emancipated shortly after her book was published. 
  2. In 1940, Hattie McDaniel became the first African American to win an Oscar for her supporting role in Gone With the Wind.  
  3. In 1963, Cicely Tyson became the first African American to star in a TV drama when she joined the series East Side/West Side
  4. In 1983, Vanessa Williams became the first African American woman to be crowned Miss America. 
  5. Before there was Princess Tiana in The Princess and the Frog, singer and actress Brandy was the first Black Disney Princess when she played in the live-action Cinderella in 1997 (it’s now available on Disney+).   
  6. In 2002, Whoopi Goldberg became the first African American to achieve the EGOT, having won an Emmy (2002), Grammy (1985), Oscar (1990), and Tony Award (2002). Less than 20 people have achieved this!  
  7. In 2012, at the London Olympics, Gabby Douglas became the first Black gymnast to win the Individual All-Around title. 

Activities for All Ages

For Daisies & Brownies

For Juniors & Cadettes

For Seniors, Ambassadors, & Adults 


Girl Scout Values: Anti-Racism Patch

The Girl Scouts Anti-Racism Patch is a reflection that we are committed to our Girl Scout values that foster a community of justice, fairness, and inclusion. This Black History Month, consider using the list of ideas and resources provided to earn the patch with your girl or troop and when you are ready, sign our Girl Scouts Stands Against Racism Pledge.

Download patch information

Sign the pledge

Member Essentials – 2/16/21

Dear GSWNY Members,

Please see the important announcements below and for questions, please contact Customer Care customercare@gswny.org or call 1-888-837-6410. In an emergency, please call 1-800-882-9268.

Thank you for all you do!


On behalf of the GSWNY Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee, we are celebrating Black History Month by highlighting Black women who were pioneers in fields that reflect our four program pillars: Life Skills, Entrepreneurship, STEM, and Outdoors. Each week we’ll share a blog post with her story, as well as other information and activities to help you celebrate the month, too!

We selected Susan McKinney Steward, M.D., for STEM because she is hailed as the third Black woman to earn a medical degree in the United States and the first African American female physician in New York state. While those are great accomplishments for any person, they are even more powerful when you consider what she had to overcome due to racism and sexism at the time. Steward’s story is impossible to summarize in a few short paragraphs.

READ MORE


Introducing gsLearn

Take your experience to the next level with gsLearn, our new online training forum. You’ll find great training and support resources like Volunteer Toolkit tutorials, Girl Scouts in the Outdoors, Facilitating Virtual Troop Meetings, and more!

To access gsLearn, click MYGS/VTK on on our website (gswny.org), log in to your account, and click gsLearn on the welcome screen.


Retail Item of the Week: Girl Scout Cookies Customizable Door Sign 

Let everyone know that you are a Girl Scout who is selling cookies. Customizable to write: First name, Troop Number, URL and Parent Contact. Comes with 2 door sign hangers. 18” x 18”

Price: $15.00 each

Email your local Girl Scout Shop to order today!

Click here to check out more gear for the cookie season, including the Cookie Booth Kit


Girl Scout Volunteer Spotlight

Behind every girl is a caring adult who is passionate about seeing girls succeed. We want to celebrate the work of our amazing Girl Scout volunteers and we need your help! Weekly, GSWNY will spotlight 1-2 Girl Scout volunteers who will be featured in the Member Essentials email and on GSWNY’s social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and etc.

Please take a few minutes to fill out the information in the survey below about a Girl Scout volunteer who should be spotlighted for their great work in supporting girls. Please note that the spotlights will be text only with no photos. If you have any questions, contact GSWNY Communications (1-888-837-6410 or communications@gswny.org). Thank you. 

VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT SURVEY


REMINDER:Our Virtual Campfire is tonight at 7 p.m.

This FREE virtual campfire is open to ALL AGES! Join us for songs, games, and other campfire fun! Register for the free virtual campfire using the provided link below. You must be pre-registered to receive the Zoom info to attend.

REGISTER FOR VIRTUAL CAMPFIRE


World Thinking Day

Each year on February 22, girls celebrate international friendship with Girl Guides and Girl Scouts around the world through activities and projects around an annual global theme. It is a special day in the Girl Scout year when we remember we are part of a worldwide movement. 

The World Thinking Day 2021 Theme is Peacebuilding. This year, we’ll celebrate what it means to be a peacebuilder in the context of our Global Movement. In this year’s activities, we’ll expand our understanding of these concepts and practice the skills to resolve conflict in peaceful ways and Take Action to make our world and communities more peaceful places. 

Visit the Girl Scout website for more information and activities for all levels.

World Thinking Day 2021 Patch 

The World Thinking Day 2021 patch is available through our shops. Place your order via email by emailing the shop location you want to pick it up from. Include a daytime phone number for the shop staff to contact you.

Buffalo Service Center 716.935.6035 – Shop.Buffalo@gswny.org
Rochester Service Center 585.239.7901 – Shop.Rochester@gswny.org
Lockport Service Center 716.935.6080 – Shop.Lockport@gswny.org
Jamestown Service Center 716.935.6040 – Shop.Jamestown@gswny.org

You can also order it online here.

The World Thinking Day Award is an official award and therefore it may be worn on the front of the official uniform sash or vest and placed where other earned badges are worn. 2″ round sew-on photo patch. Made in USA. Cost is $3.00 each


The GSWNY Volunteer Experience Team is hosting our 2nd New Leader Welcome Meeting via Zoom “Face to Face with GSWNY!” for new co-leaders on Wednesday, February 17, 2021. The purpose of the virtual meeting will be for them to meet GSWNY staff face to face, learn about our council’s various departments and what they do through a series of short presentations, and network with other volunteers. Service Unit Team members are also invited; come meet and greet your new volunteers.

Meeting Agenda

  • 6:30 – 6:40 Welcoming remarks
  • 6:40 – 7:30 Support Department presentations
  • 7:30 – 8:00 Q & A

Please sign up to attend using the Zoom registration link below. Registration will be open through the start of the meeting! Please come join us for an opportunity for YOU to have some Face to Face Time with GSWNY and new co leaders in your Service Unit!

Register in advance for this meeting.

REGISTER FOR NEW LEADER MEETING

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

If you have any questions contact our Customer Care Team at 1-888-837-6410 or customercare@gswny.org.


Silver Trefoil Memory Garden Commemorative Bricks  

Silver Trefoil is a group of Girl Scout Alumnae with 20+ years of Girl Scout membership who assist Service Units in Girl Scout traditions and maintain the Memory Garden located at Camp Windy Meadows, Lockport Service Center.

We want to create a new path in the Memory Garden and we need your help! We are raising money to fund the upkeep of the garden by offering the opportunity to purchase a 4” x 8” brick engraved with a message of your choice! Included in the price is a commemorative 4” x 4” tile coaster for you to keep. Anyone can order a commemorative brick to honor a troop, group, In Memoriam, Gold Award Girl Scout, Lifetime Member, or Service Unit. 

Use the link below to learn more about the Commemorative Bricks, see examples, and place your order today!

LEARN MORE ABOUT COMMEMORATIVE BRICKS


Cookie Program Updates

Watch out for Wacky Weather Warrior Days! When Mother Nature decides not to be so nice, we declare it wacky and give you the chance to win a special Cookie Program Survival Kit! 

We’ll share the photo on your Facebook and then you can share your photos from being out in the wacky weather in the comments. Each time we post, we’ll randomly select one winner.

Coffee Break with Your Product Program Team is happening now!

Every Friday at 10 a.m., our Product Program Team is going live to go over different topics and answer your cookie questions. 

All videos will premiere on our Facebook page and be available after for viewing on demand. Check out past videos on our YouTube here.


She THRIVES: Building Positive Mental Health Practices – C/S/A
Saturday, April 17 | 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Girls asked for mental health programs and we’ve answered! GSWNY is proud to work with our sponsors The Thinkers and the Girl Scouts NY State Training Cohort to bring this exciting program to our members! 

Vetted facilitators from Google, NASA, Emmy Award Winners, New York University, and Georgetown University will deliver 3 sessions to participants:

  • Daily Self-Care Practices for Positive, Inner Growth 
  • Be Mindful: Tips to Prevent and Manage Anxiety & Stress 

Build Healthy and Authentic Friendships & Relationships 

REGISTER FOR SHE THRIVES

Appreciating You: A Day to Recharge + Renew – For Adults & Volunteers
Saturday, May 15 | 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Volunteers and adult members have asked for mental health programs and we’ve answered! GSWNY is proud to work with our sponsors The Thinkers and the Girl Scouts NY State Training Cohort to bring this exciting program to our council! 

Vetted facilitators from Google, NASA, Emmy Award Winners, New York University, and Georgetown University will deliver 3 sessions to participants:

  • Beat Burn-Out When Caretaking & Supporting Others
  • Supporting Youth Through Mental Health Challenges

Building Strong Bonds with Youth: How to build positive relationships and cultivate positive attention with youth

REGISTER FOR APPRECIATING YOU

Looking for more programs? Visit gswny.org today!


Girl Scouting at Home

Looking for ways to stay involved with Girl Scouts? Check out our Girl Scouting at Home page today! New resources are added regularly. 

Awesome Girls: Start Your Engines with Automotive Design
Saturday, February 27, 2021, at 11:00am

Start your engines and get ready to design a brand-new vehicle! Explore how vehicles go from just an idea to something that can drive on the street.

Girls who participate will get a chance to complete an activity from the brand-new Automotive Engineering badge series, hear from a professional at General Motors and earn a FREE Automotive Engineering Patch! *Limited supply available.

This event is open to all girls in grades K-5, no previous experience needed! Don’t miss out. Secure your girl’s spot today by registering online.

Please note: This event is hosted by Girl Scouts of the USA and is not operated by our GSWNY council.

REGISTER FOR START YOUR ENGINES

If you are interested in your girl attending this program and they are not available for the live event, please go ahead and still register. A playback link will be sent out after the program that can be viewed.

Looking for more options? Head to girlscouts.org for even more at-home opportunities for your Girl Scout.


Girl Scouts Doing Good Things

Troop 30188 donated candy and valentines to Eden Heights of W.S. assisted living.


We are #GirlScoutStrong! Looking forward to talking to you next Tuesday! In the meantime, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Customer Care customercare@gswny.org or call 1-888-837-6410. In an emergency, please call 1-800-882-9268.

Dr. Susan McKinney Steward: GSWNY Celebrates Black History Month

On behalf of the GSWNY Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee, to celebrate Black History Month, each week we’re highlighting a groundbreaking Black woman for her accomplishments related to the four pillars of Girl Scouts. This week, we’re featuring Dr. Susan McKinney Steward for STEM.


Dr. Susan McKinney Steward: 1847-1918 

We selected Susan McKinney Steward, M.D., for STEM because she is hailed as the third Black woman to earn a medical degree in the United States and the first African American female physician in New York state. While those are great accomplishments for any person, they are even more powerful when you consider what she had to overcome due to racism and sexism at the time. Steward’s story is impossible to summarize in a few short paragraphs. Although we attempted to select some highlights, reading a more extensive biography is vital to get a true grasp of the monumental amount of achievements she had in her lifetime. The below biography is adapted from the History of American Women blog: https://www.womenhistoryblog.com/2015/05/susan-mckinney-steward.html  

Susan McKinney Steward was born Susan Maria Smith in 1847, and she was the seventh of 10 children born to a multi-racial family. Her mother was of indigenous Shinnecock and French descent, and her father’s ancestors included an indigenous Montauk* and an African who escaped from a slave ship.  

In 1867, Steward enrolled at the New York Medical College for Women, founded by Dr. Clemence Sophia Lozier, one of the first female doctors in the United States. At this point in history, women (regardless of race) were not welcome to attend male medical schools. Besides welcoming Black students, the college was the first school where women of New York City could study medicine and the first hospital where women patients could receive medical care from doctors of their own gender.  

Steward graduated from the college as class valedictorian in 1870, also earning the honor of becoming the first African American female physician in New York and the third in America. She established a medical practice in her Brooklyn home and was able to open a second office in Manhattan. Her patients ran the spectrum in age, race, and income. Many affectionately called her Dr. Susan. 

In 1871, she married William G. McKinney, an Episcopal minister from South Carolina. The couple lived in her parents’ home, and in 1874 moved to the predominantly white area of Brooklyn where they had two children. She also continued her education and in 1888 was the only woman in a post-graduate class from the Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn. Sadly, in 1890 her husband suffered a cerebral hemorrhage (bleeding in the brain). She supported the family and six additional relatives who lived in the McKinney household. Her husband passed in 1892.  

In 1896, she married Theophilus Gould Steward, an ordained minister and chaplain of the 25th U.S. Colored Infantry. Dr. Steward moved several times as her husband was stationed at various army posts in the West, earning medical licenses and practicing medicine in Montana and Wyoming. In 1898, she was hired as a resident physician and a health and nutrition teacher Wilberforce University in Ohio. Although she followed her husband to other jobs in other states, she eventually returned to her position with Wilberforce University where her husband later became a history teacher.  

Steward participated in significant social reform for women’s equality, suffrage, and temperance. She shed light on issues surrounding prenatal care and childhood diseases. She actively worked to establish medical facilities for people of color and the elderly, even serving as a surgeon at one.  

In 1911, she attended a Universal Race Congress in London and presented a paper titled “Colored American Women,” which dealt with achievements of famous African American women including Phyllis Wheatley, Ida Wells Barnett, and Mary Church Terrell. She was lauded as an incredible public speaker. 

In 1914, Dr. Steward delivered a speech “Women in Medicine” before the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs in Wilberforce, OH. In this speech she examined the history of women in medicine from Biblical times to 1914. Steward concluded that there was no need for separate medical schools for women, but that they should have equal opportunity for internships.  

Dr. Steward died suddenly on March 7, 1918, at Wilberforce University at age 71. Her body was returned to Brooklyn for burial. At her funeral the famous feminist, author, and social reformer Hallie Quinn Brown delivered her eulogy. Dr. William S. Scarborough, president of Wilberforce University, and author Dr. W.E.B. DuBois also spoke at the funeral. 

In 1974, the New York Board of Education named a Brooklyn school the Dr. Susan Smith McKinney Junior High School. During the 1980s, African-American women doctors in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut named their medical society after Steward. 

*NOTE: As Steward is of Shinnecock and Montauk descent, we opted to use the term ‘indigenous.’ People of indigenous North American descent have varying preferences for how they are referred to such as ‘Native American,’ ‘American Indian,’ ‘Indian,’ and other terms, although many prefer to be called by their specific Nation or tribal names. This topic itself is its own journey of discovery and we encourage research and consideration into this subject. On the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian’s FAQ page (https://americanindian.si.edu/) they offer this:  

What is the correct terminology: American Indian, Indian, Native American, or Native? 

All of these terms are acceptable. The consensus, however, is that whenever possible, Native people prefer to be called by their specific tribal name. In the United States, Native American has been widely used but is falling out of favor with some groups, and the terms American Indian or indigenous American are preferred by many Native people.  

The following resources expand on Steward’s life and work. 


Black History Month Facts & Information

When looking for examples of contributions that African Americans have made to the United States, you do not have to look far. In fact, you probably used or came across one today! Here’s two examples: 

Three-Position Traffic Signal – Garret Morgan 

On November 20, 1923, Morgan received a patent for his electric automatic three-position traffic signal. Although it was not the first traffic signal, it was an important innovation because previous traffic sign 

s were manually operated and only had two positions: stop and go with no interval in between, causing many collisions. Morgan’s third position directed traffic to stop in all directions (precursor to the yellow light), giving drivers enough time to clear the intersection before crossing traffic entered it.  

Closed Circuit Television Security System – Marie Van Brittan Brown 

To feel safer while at home alone, Brown invented the first home security system in 1966. Her system included four peepholes, a sliding camera, television monitors, and microphones, the foundations for today’s modern home security systems. She also created a remote with a button to unlock the door and a button to call the police! In 1969, Brown and her husband received a patent for the invention and later she received an award from the National Science Committee.


Activities for All Ages

For Daisies & Brownies

For Juniors & Cadettes

For Seniors, Ambassadors, & Adults 


Girl Scout Values: Anti-Racism Patch

The Girl Scouts Anti-Racism Patch is a reflection that we are committed to our Girl Scout values that foster a community of justice, fairness, and inclusion. This Black History Month, consider using the list of ideas and resources provided to earn the patch with your girl or troop and when you are ready, sign our Girl Scouts Stands Against Racism Pledge.

Download patch information

Sign the pledge

Celebrating Susan B. Anthony

Image from Wikipedia

Today we celebrate and honor the work of Susan B. Anthony, a women’s suffrage champion who dedicated her life to social change. Born February 15, 1820, Susan spent her initial years in Massachusetts until her family moved to Battenville, New York, when she was six years old.  

Raised in the Quaker tradition, Susan’s moral compass developed young under the belief that all are equal under God. After attending boarding school near Philadelphia, she lived in New Rochelle, New York, working in a Quaker seminary in 1839. After 10 years and a teaching position in upstate New York at an all-girls’ academy, she returned home to her family, now living in Rochester.

While living there, her family became acquainted with Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison, prominent abolitionists. The Anthony family activism didn’t stop with anti-slavery – they also participated in the temperance movement, a group trying to end both the making and selling of alcohol in America. This involvement set Susan on her path for women’s rights.

In 1852, Susan attended a temperance meeting in Albany and intended to speak. Instead of voicing her thoughts, she was told to “listen and learn,” which goes against what she had been taught about her role as a Quaker. As a result, she narrowed her focus and fight on getting the right to vote for women, believing that was the key to being heard and taken seriously.

The rest of her life was spent in partnership with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and other suffragists, speaking around the country and lobbying to give women the right to vote. While many supported and admired her courage and ideas, others hated what she had to say and often she was at risk of being arrested for sharing her beliefs in public.

In fact, in 1872, Susan was arrested for voting with a verdict that was decided before she even went to court. Her sentence was a $100 fine, which she never paid. In her mind, she was a citizen and not doing anything wrong in voting.

Her activism continued for her entire life, and she lead suffrage groups until 1900. She continued to lobby congress every single year on behalf of equal rights for women. After a lifetime of service, Susan died in 1906, 14 years before the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote was passed.

Note: While we can respect Susan B. Anthony for the work she did and the ideas she fostered, it’s important to remember that her advocacy for women’s rights did not always represent equality for all people.

While the ratification of the law that granted women suffrage was intended to be for all women, unfortunately, people of color still had a long road ahead. Black people in particular, as well as other people of color, experienced voter suppression on a massive scale through discriminatory tactics employed to keep them disenfranchised. It wasn’t until 1965, when the Voting Rights Act was passed, that these tactics were formally outlawed. Thanks to this pivotal civil rights legislation, the tide began to turn. Yet for many Latinx and immigrant voters, it wasn’t until the Voting Rights Act was extended in 1975 to, among other things, require voting materials be translated into languages other than English, that they too could comfortably exercise their right to vote.

Although there have been strides across the country to ensure the right to vote is secured for all citizens, many Americans still do not enjoy full voting rights in our country. Despite the Voting Rights Act, voter suppression efforts persist and disproportionately target voters of color, immigrant voters, LGBTQ+ voters, and disabled voters. As a result, many women living at the intersection of these identities still struggle to safely vote in this country.

It is important that we honor those who came before us and fought to end voter suppression for all women and all people throughout the United States, as well as vow to support the enfranchisement of all citizens, so that their right to have their voices heard and counted is unencumbered.

References & Further Reading:

Free download of Democracy/civics badge requirements through February 15.

Girl Scouts is encouraging all girls to be informed citizens so they can become the change-makers of the future. To support them, we’re making our Democracy badge requirements free for all to download now through February 15. https://bit.ly/2KvxrM7

Happy Lunar New Year!

Friday, February 12, 2021, is a new year! Well, it is if you use the lunar or lunisolar calendar. Although many times you’ll hear this celebration called Chinese New Year, it is actually celebrated by many Asian countries which is why many call it Lunar New Year.

What is Lunar New Year? This date is marked by the moon’s cycle in the lunar calendar’s year which is why this is a shifting holiday and doesn’t fall on the same date each year. Typically Lunar New Year falls between January 21 and February 20 of the Gregorian calendar (this is the common January to December calendar you’re likely familiar with and use yourself).

Depending on the country and culture, celebrations of Lunar New Year are different. While we’d love to cover everything in one blog post, it’s not possible and we wouldn’t do it justice. We’re going to mostly talk about the way that the Chinese celebrate Lunar New Year since many Americans have a some familiarity with this particular cultural holiday, but we suggest reading about how others celebrate since it’s such a diverse topic! South Korea celebrates it with the name Seollal. Mongolian New Year is Tsgaan Sar. Tibet celebrates Losar. Vietnam celebrates Tết. The list goes on, so you can see why we’d have a hard time capturing everything in one post. Also, keep in mind that although we are focusing on the general way that China celebrates the holiday, it is a diverse country itself and not all areas may celebrate the same holiday in the exact same way.

In China, Lunar New Year is a 15-day celebration (and is also called Spring Festival because it generally marks the coldest days before spring weather begins). Typically, most people get 7 days off of work and school to visit family during this time. It was estimated that last year in January 2020 nearly 3 billion trips were made by those visiting family specifically for Lunar New Year!

The start of the new year is also the start of the next zodiac. The Chinese zodiac, or Sheng Xiao (生肖), is a repeating 12-year cycle of animal signs (the order of the zodiac animals goes: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig.) The year you are born dictates which animal zodiac you fall under. It is believed to have an impact on your personality, career, relationships, and more. In 2021, we are moving into the year of the Ox. This is actually NOT good luck for those born in 2021, 2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961, 1949, etc. (Keep in mind with the moving holiday it is hard to know exactly if you fall into a certain Chinese zodiac. You may need Google’s help. A January or February birthday in one of those years still might fall under the prior zodiac.) Typically, when the year of your zodiac comes up, it is thought of as a time to overcome obstacles and face potential tests. For more info about the Chinese zodiacs, check out this website.

The Lunar New Year also has numerous symbols as part of the festivities. The holiday is largely about attracting good luck and good fortune and most of the symbols revolve around that.

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

Red and gold are two colors you will see pop up repeatedly in association with Chinese culture and Lunar New Year. Gold is a color of harmony and is often associated with spiritual freedom. Red is thought to bring luck and symbolizes good fortune and joy. Because of red’s meaning, families will give their children red envelopes of money to share fortune with them. Sometimes bosses, coworkers, and friends share red envelopes as well.

Another common sight is a calligraphy character on a square of red paper, hung in a diamond shape. The character, 福 [fú], which means good luck, is hung upside down for Lunar New Year. The word fú means to arrive or begin and sounds like the word for “upside-down.” By hanging fú upside down, you’re asking for good fortune to arrive.

Photo by Designecologist on Pexels.com

Firecrackers and fireworks are a staple of the holiday, too! Fireworks are set off at midnight to scare away bad luck, then are used again in the morning to welcome good luck. It is believed that this is the date that the most fireworks in the world are set off in a single night.

Photo by Vladislav Vasnetsov on Pexels.com

Traditional dances and performances are incorporated into parades and celebrations. Two common ones are The Lion Dance and The Dragon Dance. The Lion Dance features two performers inside the costume, operating as the creature’s front and back legs. The Dragon Dance features visible puppeteers holding poles as they make the dragon move in a flowing motion. Depending on the region of China, other dances include The Fan Dance, The Phoenix Dance, or other performances associated with the local culture of each province.

Photo by Eva Elijas on Pexels.com

All of these festivities end in the Lantern Festival (灯节 / dēng jié). This event is its own feast for the eyes with an abundance of lantern decorations as well as the lighting of flying sky lanterns. The Lantern Festival features some overlap with the general celebrations of Lunar New Year, such as dances and fireworks, but admiring the lanterns and enjoying the night are the main focus of this particular celebration. Loosely speaking, lanterns are considered a wide variety of illuminated displays and can be floating, flying, held, or hung, so you’ll often see a wide range of lit decorations referred to as Chinese lanterns.

Photo by Rebecca Swafford on Pexels.com

As we said before, this barely grazes the surface for the Chinese celebration of Lunar New Year. As with any fun celebration, there’s a ton of food to enjoy, plus there’s lots of other activities families and friends do together during this time. There’s plenty to enjoy surrounding Lunar New Year and we barely scratched the surface!

Additional Resources:

Fun Activities:

Chinese New Year Crafts for Kids (RedTedArt.com)

Learn the correct way to write fú for your own hanging ornament (remember to hang it upside-down!)

Follow 2 girls on their adventure of Lunar New Year in China:

See how some of the large display lanterns are made by a traditional craftsman (Chinese with English subtitles):