CHERRY HILL, NJ --  The Girl Scouts of Central and Southern New Jersey announced on Thursday that organization leaders will hand-deliver Girl Scout’s highest honor, the Gold Award, to 74 remarkable young women on July 10 as opposed to the traditional annual ceremony  These teens channeled their leadership, passion, work ethic, and creativity toward discovering innovative solutions for today’s issues in their community.  

The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest award in Girl Scouting.  It recognizes girls in grades 9 through 12 who demonstrate extraordinary leadership through remarkable projects that have sustainable impact in the community and beyond. 

Since 1916, girls have successfully answered the call to go Gold, an act that indelibly marks them as accomplished members of their communities and the world.

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In a well-orchestrated and timed effort, team leaders will be deployed beginning at 10:00 am on Friday, July 10 from Girl Scout headquarters in Cherry Hill to travel across the central and southern New Jersey region to hand-deliver the Gold Award to the girls at their home. 

Achanta Vaathsalya of Edison's project was  “Empowering the Young Minds”. My project addressed the educational needs of children of grades K-8. These children are placed in the Homeless/transition shelter due to many reasons, and I wanted to make a valuable contribution to their lives. I converted an empty space in the Missionfirst Housing Organization into an educational resource room. This room has various learning resources like children’s books, art supplies, furniture like desks, cabinets, chairs.

Megha Senthil's project was  “Magic of Music”. In present time, the education system is starting to neglect early musical education because of competing funding priorities, such as STEM, sports, and daily operations. Musical education is a topic that has been undervalued in education systems for a long time. My project addressed this issue, by providing children who do not have the opportunity for an early musical education with a program that will help them understand the benefits of musical education, inspiring them to have music in their lives as they grow up. In order to achieve this, I searched out for educational institutes near me where musical programs were not offered. I was also able to find the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) My project helped children who do not have the opportunity for musical education to understand the benefits of music, inspiring them to have music in their lives as they grow up.

Local Girls Scouts Jenna Soliman and Samantha DeMartino, both from Robbinsville, also will receive their Gold Awards. 

Elsewhere in southern and central New Jersey who have earned their Gold Awards are:  Achanta Vaathsalya, Edison; Julia DiBenedetto, Metuchen; Samantha Rebolledo and Iyana McEachern, both of Piscataway; Melanie Miller, Milltown; Alexandrea Medley, East Brunswick; Victoria Talharim, South River; Emily Wheeler, Bordentown, Alison Wall, Fieldsboro; Varsha Gollarhalli and Ria Bajaj, both of West Windsor; Elie Wilton and Chloe Colleton, both of East Windsor; and Divia Shah, Freehold. 

This year’s class of Gold Award recipients completed all of these tasks and submitted their references by March 1.  Fortunately, the impacts of COVID-19 did not derail their journey to gold. In past years, girls received their award at an important Girl Award event.  Due to the pandemic and an effort to ensure the safety of the girls and the Girl Scout team, we are safely deploying the team to individually present the honor. 

All of these young women have undertaken the following seven steps required to become a Gold Award Girl Scout:

  1. Choose an issue. Use your values and skills to identify a community issue you care about.
  2. Investigate. Research everything you can about the issue.
  3. Get help. Invite others to support and take action with you.
  4. Create a plan. Create a project plan that can deliver sustainable and measurable impact.
  5. Present the plan. Sum up your project plan for your Girl Scout council.
  6. Take action. Take the lead to carry out your plan.
  7. Educate and inspire. Share with others what you’ve experienced and learned.

Research has verified that participating in Girl Scouts and earning the Gold Award are linked to developing critical leadership skills and advanced achievements.  At Girl Scouts, we know that these Gold Award recipients will be among tomorrow’s leaders making a significant impact on their communities and the world.


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