Brandi James and Christine Newell, 2017 graduates of Parkway West High, and Megan Hake, a 2018 graduate of Marquette High, recently earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest achievement in Girl Scouts.
By earning the award, these young ladies exemplify leaders who have transformed an idea for change into an actionable plan with a sustainable impact. The Gold Award represents the culmination of more than 80 hours of work on a project that is important to each girl.
Each year in the U.S. more than 15,000 children and teens are diagnosed with cancer, according to the American Childhood Cancer Organization. To earn her Gold Award, James devoted her time and energy to enriching the daily lives of children undergoing treatment at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. James organized a special day for patients and their families to take a break from their day-to-day stressors. James built a customized corn hole board, set up a special photo booth complete with props, organized a coloring station and assembled a miniature bowling alley. James and her team of volunteers brought smiles to the many families who participated in the event. James donated the activities she created to another local nonprofit, which will use these special games to further their mission of providing recreational support to young patients.
For her Gold Award project, Newell helped ensure lifeguards in her area were prepared for a crisis. Using wire cutters, extension cords and tubing, she built oxygen tanks and practice Automated External Defibrillators [AEDs] for lifeguards to use while training. After assembling, Newell distributed the items to aquatic directors and local eastern Missouri YMCAs. To ensure an environment of safety for future generations, Newell created and handed out instructions for replicating her homemade AEDs.
Inspired by a local nonprofit creating recycled jewelry to benefit a rehabilitation home for trafficking victims, Hake collected necklaces and bracelets to raise awareness about the cause. Hake distributed donation boxes to area businesses, where community members donated their second-hand pieces. She also created a video highlighting the jewelry-making process, and how a simple pair of earrings could provide trafficking victims with medical and emotional care and career counseling.