Girl Scouts of Western New York announced Judith Monickaraj, of Rochester, as a 2018 Gold Award Girl Scout.
Monickaraj’s project, Launch Pads for Change, was created to provide menstrual care and hygiene items to women in Pune, India. She worked with Koinonia Fellowship, an organization that helps run a girls home in Pune and annually sends a team to fill any medical needs in the area.
“My mom grew up in India, and one day she brought up the fact that many girls do not have access to pads, and are forced to miss many days of school each month because of this. I prioritize my schoolwork very much and cannot imagine having to deal with this extra unnecessary pressure that is still a reality for so many every month. I take so many simple hygienic luxuries, such as soap, pads, toothbrushes, for granted,” said Monickaraj.
A woman involved with Koinonia found details about how to make reusable menstrual pads for women in developing nations, with the use of a sewing machine, fabric, thread and velcro. With her Girl Scout Troop and family assisting, Monickaraj sewed over 100 pads for the girls home.
After finishing the pads, Monickaraj gave them to the Koinonia team, who brought them overseas to the girls’ home. The team was grateful for the project, and many of the people who went on the trip were inspired to make some of their own for next year. Monickaraj also created a website — judytm31.wixsite.com/website — telling her story and informing others how they could help out, either through donations or making more pads.
“I’ve learned that anyone can make a difference. I’ve done countless community service projects with my troop, and I feel like my Gold Award is just a culmination of all the little skills I learned through my years of scouting, such as identifying a need, communication with others to make a plan, and working hard to see that plan through and help out. Something as simple as making goodie bags for a hospital, writing positive notes to someone or volunteering in a soup kitchen can change lives. And you don’t have special talents or a lot of resources, you just need to care about others,” said Monickaraj.
Monickaraj received her Gold Award at the Gold Award Ceremony on June 2. The Gold Award is the highest award in Girl Scouts.
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 ongoing or sustainable. About 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 to enter the military a full rank higher than her peers.
The Girl Scout Gold Award 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.
Visit gswny.org for more information.