Name, Age: Madeline Zimmerman, 16
Accomplishment: Working toward the Girl Scout Gold Award by creating a project that brings artwork to the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women.
Key to Awesomeness: Zimmerman was contemplating a project for her Girl Scout Gold Award, the honor that will culminate 11 years of scouting for the ambitious eleventh grader.
She said she wanted to combine her love of painting with her desire to design a project that would help women in unfortunate circumstances.
Previously for her Silver Award, she and her troop collected clothing and school supplies for teen mothers trying to get their GEDs.
“I was so inspired to help women push past what society thinks they are capable of doing,” she said. “And I got the idea to donate art to the prison because every year at Christmas time, my church (’s) does a present drive to give to the kids of the moms who are there."
Zimmerman worked with art classes at her school and she and the students ultimately created 50 pieces of kid-friendly artwork to adorn the walls of the main visiting area, the children’s center and the nursery at the prison. Mickey Mouse, Sponge Bob, Elmo and many other beloved characters are featured in the colorful paintings.
The 16-year old Girl Scout believes her project, entitled “Painted Presents,” will have a dramatic effect on the residents at the facility and its children.
“The walls of the prison’s visiting rooms and children’s rooms are, for the most part, very bleak and plain,” she said. “Many of these kids have traveled on long bus rides to visit their mothers and I love knowing that this artwork will cheer them up and make the experience less traumatic and more relaxing.”
Zimmerman is also an athlete, as captain of the track and field team, in addition to being an honors student at Briarcliff High School.
She said her Gold Award is something she has wanted to achieve since she was a Brownie.
“I’m proud to have stayed a Girl Scout for this long, and I think it’s very cool when people are shocked that I am a junior in high school and still a Girl Scout.”