Wilson Elementary School’s fifth grade Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey Troop 41106 members recently earned their Girl Scout Bronze Awards.

The six troop members each put in over 20 hours of volunteer work during the 2019-20 school year for their three chosen projects, which culminated in “Power Up!,” a public presentation on International Women's Day, March 8, 2020, at the Westfield YMCA’s Bauer Branch, with the generous assistance of Gedman’s Black Belt Academy.

These fifth graders did their own research in our local community, picked projects that were meaningful to them, and did the hard work of talking to various adults by making phone calls, sending emails and even meeting twice with Westfield Mayor Shelley Brindle:H

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  • Three girls worked together as the "Westfield Loves Pets" project team. They mapped out businesses in downtown Westfield and then walked around to each store and spoke directly to shop owners. They held a fundraiser, purchased water bowls for dogs, created a logo and sticker, and placed the water bowls outside each store that agreed to fill the bowls for thirsty dogs. The girls created a website to document their journey, mapping each participating store and coordinating with the Downtown Westfield Corporation to market their efforts.
  • Two girls, while walking through downtown Westfield and Mindowaskin Park, realized that despite the town's efforts, there is still an unfortunate amount of litter in our beautiful town. They formed the "Westfield Recycles" project team, created a slideshow presentation to raise awareness among fellow elementary school students, and spoke to the Mayor about the need for better differentiation between recycling bins and trash cans (currently the bins in the park are the same color). They were also working with Westfield's Green Team and, prior to the pandemic, had planned to assist the town in the April celebration of Earth Day.
  • One girl, who has been practicing Tae Kwon Do for six years, has found self-confidence and courage through her journey to first degree black belt and beyond. She feels very strongly about wanting to empower other kids with that same self-confidence that they can use in their daily lives, even if they have no formal martial arts training. To that end, she worked closely with her instructors at Gedman's Black Belt Academy to deliver a two-part, free, self-defense course. First, in January, she taught her fellow Girl Scout troop members the basics of self-defense. Then, at Power Up!, her troop supported her as she taught a wider audience - and even helped show the Mayor how to break a board. She worked directly with the Westfield YMCA to get the space donated for both events.

When Girl Scout Juniors team up to make a difference in their community, they learn important leadership skills, discover new passions, and watch how seemingly small actions make a big difference. It all adds up to the Girl Scout Bronze Award—the highest honor a Junior can achieve.

For details on how to join or start a Westfield Girl Scout troop, email gshnjwestfield@gmail.com.