HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ - Two Hasbrouck Heights Girl Scouts earned their Silver Award by working to combat bullying with kindness.

The name of Isabella and Olivia’s project was called “Connect in Kindness.” The two girls of Troop 95291 wanted to promote kindness by eliminating bullying and overall negativity in both middle school and social media.

“I addressed this issue because it has been happening so much at school, around town through different events, and in the world,” said Isabella. “Every time I turn on the television or go on my social media sites, I find negative news; people treating one another poorly and it makes me frustrated and sad.  Bullying makes people feel unwanted and that is one of the worst feelings in the world to me. I chose this topic to address because I feel that no one should have to go through this or feel that feeling.”

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According to Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey, the Girl Scouts Silver project needs to focus “on an issue, outside of Girl Scouting, that affects the local neighborhood or beyond.” It also requires a minimum of 40 hours of planning and working on the project. It took Isabella and Olivia eight months, about 50 hours, start to finish, to complete their project.

The girls used numerous outreach forums to help connect in kindness: an Instagram account, doing presentations at various troop meetings, Girl Scout events, and even in classrooms. With the permission of school principals, the girls created a Connect in Kindness bulletin board in schools, and encouraged students to post positive messages to each other. Additionally, they taught second grader troops American Sign Language, a way to connect to hearing impaired. They also decorated brown paper bags with positive sayings and made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for 300 people through Meals with a Mission, which feeds the hungry in north Jersey.

Aside from Girl Scouts, Isabella and Olivia had to balance their project along with their other activities, including volleyball, basketball, softball, National Honor Society, and choir. The girl also attend two different middle schools, which was an additional challenge.

“Olivia and I had a vision of what we wanted to accomplish, but we had to really think about what steps we needed to take and plan out the time to do them,” said Isabella. “We are both very involved in sports and are in the honors programs in our schools, so we knew that if we were going to accomplish our project we needed to be super organized and stick to our schedule.”

“We faced many challenges in this project such as writing our speeches, addressing our school principals and other people in the community for their support of this project,” said Olivia. “The most surprising part of the project was how supportive everyone was with our project, and how they were willing to do anything to help us achieve our goals.”

Troop leader Gina Hernandez provided positive guidance for the girls.

“Positive reinforcement “always” because they took on quite a task,” said Hernandez. “I wanted to make sure that they didn’t get ‘burnt’ out as they both are very involved in extracurricular and in the honors programs in their schools.  I didn’t want them to set unrealistic expectations – and encouraged them to be thoughtful of their schedule and a realistic timeline of events in order for them to accomplish what they set out to accomplish.”

“After the project, I learned the importance of friendship and kindness, and how they can impact someone's life in such amazing ways,” said Olivia.

Both girls say they plan to go on to pursue their Gold Award, the highest honor in Girl Scouts.

“I am extremely proud of Olivia and Isabella and their execution of this project and achievement of their Silver Award,” said Hernandez. “It was not an easy under-taking, but they really stepped up and worked hard.”


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