SOMERVILLE, NJ - Touched by the story of a New Jersey girl their age who had committed suicide, four Girl Scouts dedicated their Silver Award project to her memory, crafting inspirational messages that were painted on the 4th- and 5th-grade bathroom stalls at the Van Derveer School.
Mallory Grossman, a 12-year-old student at the Copeland School in Rockaway Township, committed suicide in June of 2017. Since then, her mother Dianne, with help and support from thousands of people locally and across the country, has been at the forefront of anti-bullying efforts assisted by “Mallory’s Army.”
“That story was very sobering for them,” said one of the girls' mothers, Erica Silvestri.
“We all know how hard it is, the social pressures, social media, the baggage we all carry,” she added.
“Just a simple message can help put a little smile on your face and can make your day.”
The four girls from Girl Scout Troop 60038, Service Unit 71, “enlisted” in Mallory’s Army when they were eighth-graders at Somerville Middle School, and decided they wanted to pursue the project
The four girls are now 14-years-old and will begin their freshmen year at Somerville High School next week.
Abriana Silvestri, Selina Wadhera, Samantha Saliola and Sophia Stabile began working on the project in April, finishing two months later at the end of the school year.
But before work could begin, they had to get approval from school administrators, and they had to raise money to pay for art supplies.
Their mission of spreading kindness and understanding was heartily endorsed by school officials.
Next, they made a presentation to the Middle School PTO, hoping for financial support. They received $250.
The girls also sold Kindness bracelets and raised another $150.
The Silver Award project requires the girls to design and execute a fund-raising program.
The money raised paid for the paint and stencils; the girls designed each message which was then applied to the metal stalls in each of the bathrooms.
The messages include:
"One Kind Word Can Change Someone's Entire Day."
"Be Bold, Be Brave, Be You."
"Be Your Own Kind of Beautiful."
"You Are Somebody's Reason to Smile."
"Perfect Girls Aren't Real; Real Girls Aren't Perfect."
"There was a lot of camaraderie, a lot of support. It was nice to see them come together,” Silvestri said. “It was well received by the teachers and it looks great.”