At a time when it is easier for young people to be distracted by electronics, social media, and the like, it is nice to know that many are focused on causes and issues that help and serve others. Two such young women are Pleasantville High School freshmen Madison Spears and Silpaa Gunabalan of Pleasantville Girl Scout Troop 2287. Both were among those honored at a November 17th ceremony for earning The Girl Scout Silver Award, the 2nd highest award in Girl Scouting and the highest award that can be earned by a Cadette Girl Scout. The Girl Scout Silver Award represents a girl's accomplishments in her community as she works to improve the lives of others. Earning the Silver Award requires over 50 hours of planning and implementing a challenging, large-scale project that is innovative, engages others, and has a lasting impact on its targeted community with an emphasis on sustainability and global outreach. The award helps girls build organizational and leadership skills, explore careers, and make a commitment to improve her community or the world around her.
Madison Spears’ project provided 26 backpacks stocked full of school supplies to under-served and under-represented children in grades K-12 through Neighbor’s Link. Neighbors Link is a non-profit organization in Mount Kisco, NY that provides education and employment opportunities to immigrant families and individuals in Northern Westchester County, NY. Their strategy is to educate, empower and employ immigrant families and individuals whose lives have been economically impoverished and educationally deprived. Through her project, Madison wanted to help insure that children associated with Neighbors Link had the educational tools they needed for a great start at school. She also volunteered at the center to help engage younger children as their parents attended classes.
Silpaa Gunabalan’s project created a clothes closet at Maria Fareri Children's Hospital for those patients who enter the facility through the trauma center. These patients are often cut of out their clothes to speed access to wounds or they arrive at the facility in garments that have been stained or heavily soiled as a result of their injuries. Silpaa created a closet within the hospital stocked with unisex multiple-sized garments so that individuals without the necessary resources to replace their clothing would have access to garments to wear when being discharged from the facility.
Both Madison and Silpaa previously earned the Bronze Award with their entire twelve member Troop (2287) as Junior Girl Scouts when they worked at the Briarcliff Animal Shelter donating animal activity toys and bedding, rebuilding dog training paths, renewing flower beds, spreading mulch, and building a bench. Troop 2287 began their journey together as kindergartners and are now ninth graders at Pleasantville High School and are currently Senior level Girl Scouts in the Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson, Inc. (GSHH) council.
GSHH serves over 32,000 girls in grades K-12 and over 14,000 adult members in a seven county region of the lower Hudson Valley in New York (Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster, and Westchester counties). GSHH is committed to advancing girl programming that includes S.T.E.M., self-esteem, leadership development, career pathways, girl advocacy, and multi-cultural appreciation. To contact GSHH: www.girlscoutshh.org / 914-747-3080 / firstname.lastname@example.org