Girl Scouts of Western New York presented a 2019 Gold Award to Hanna Walker, of North Chili, for her project, “Gardens for Owen.”
“My project was located in North Chili at St. Christopher’s Church,” Walker said. “I cleaned and re-did four gardens at my church that have always looked like a disaster. My team and I cleaned, raked, took out, cut down, planted new plants and flowers, added lights and chains, added landscaping fabric and lining, and decorated.
“I chose this project because a year ago I lost a classmate and friend. Owen rode on my bus, sat in my classes and went to my church. Seeing him always struggle with disabilities and still persevere through was truly astonishing to me. From him, I was motivated to do this project in his honor to make sure he is always remembered. I had a memorial stone made for Owen that I placed in a garden I called the children’s garden, where I also added a bird bath, birdhouses and small gnomes to make it more kid-friendly.
“My hope of this project is to create a beautiful place for my church community where nobody feels alone or forgotten. My goal was to make a difference in the community, and never forget my friend.
“Girl Scouts has opened my heart to everyone and everything. I have done things that I will be proud of for the rest of my life, and will forever choose others over myself.”
The Gold Award is the highest award in Girl Scouts. A Scout’s project should be something they can be passionate about in thought, deed and action, as well as encompass organizational, leadership and networking skills. It should fulfill a need within their community, and create change that has the potential to be ongoing or sustainable.
Approximately 80 hours of community service are involved in the project. The Gold Award qualifies the Scout for scholarship opportunities and to enter the military a full rank higher than her peers.
The Gold Award requires a Scout to identify an issue and investigate it to understand what can be done to address the problem. Scouts then form teams to act as their support system, including a project adviser close to the issue who is not a troop leader or family member.
Scouts create plans to ensure they know what steps they must tackle while working on their projects. They submit project proposals to their local Girl Scout councils and, once accepted, work through the steps of the plan, utilizing the support team where necessary. The project is used to educate and inspire others about the cause they are addressing.
Visit gswny.org for information.