Every year, ten exceptionally inspiring Girl Scout Gold Award recipients are chosen as National Young Women of Distinction (NYWOD). This honor is given to Girl Scout Seniors and Ambassadors whose Gold Award projects demonstrated extraordinary leadership, had a measurable and sustainable impact, and addressed a local challenge related to a national and/or global issue. These young women are taking matters into their own hands and being the change the world needs!
The NYWOD program perfectly reflects our mission of building girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. The program provides these young stars with the opportunity to be an inspiration to girls around the world and throughout the Girl Scout Movement.
Each council can nominate three Girl Scouts for the opportunity to be selected to be a National Young Woman of Distinction. This year, GSSI nominated Nicole Laflen from Belleville, Sarah Pavlisin from O’Fallon and Bailee Warsing from Granite City.
Nicole’s Girl Scout Gold Award Project, called Strides for Strays – Racing to Rescue – Service for Smiles was to address the lack of community awareness surrounding service animals and the overpopulation of animal shelters. She wanted more shelter animals to be trained to be service animals, especially as companion animals to those suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. She held a dog-friendly 5K and informational fair in the community to help spread the message that, rather than being euthanized,, many animals in shelters could be trained to be helpful service animals. Eighteen vendors and 225 participants took part in the event. Last, she donated pet beds and blankets to local animal shelters.
Sarah’s Girl Scout Gold Award project, called The Joy of Reading, was to create a library for special needs students in an area school. Not only did she want to create the library where these students could read, but she also wanted to make it a safe haven from the stresses of school work and life. She created sensory bags filled with trinkets and balloons filled with flour. She also, with the help of a handyman, built two bookshelves to hold all of the books, toys and games for the library. In addition, Sarah supplied the library with beanbag chairs, a fish tank and fun mood lighting to make the space more appealing and kid friendly.
Bailee’s Girl Scout Gold Award project, called Raptor Residence, was to build a large residential cage for birds at Tree House Wildlife Center. In addition to working with volunteers and donors to raise $3,000 to build the cage, Bailee also tackled the issue of dangers of human expansion on birds and particularly an osprey who had been hit by a car in Granite City. As part of her project, she spoke to various groups about Tree House Wildlife Center and its efforts to rehabilitate injured birds. She spoke to students at Granite City High, younger Girl Scouts and community members.