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Girl Scouts still bring out the best

caines | 5/16/2013, 5:30 a.m.

Group remains impactful in community, a century later The Gold Award. It is the highest award that a Girl Scout can achieve. It requires time, dedication, organization and public speaking skills. Imani Johnson, a student at Miami Lakes Educational Center and a member of Troop 347, received that award earlier this month. To receive it, she informed more than 100 people about birth defects and premature babies. She also donated 30 handmade baskets to premature babies filled with blankets, towels, lotion, baby wash and other items. The project required about 80 hours of planning and implementing, which has helped her with interviewing and organization skills, she said. Imani, who is now in the 11th grade, first became a girl scout when she was in the second grade. Since then, Imani has had positive development in areas, such as communication, organization, leadership, life, collaboration, and networking, according to her mother, Paulette Johnson. It helps you give back to your community, learn new skills, organize and prepare for the real world, Imani said. Many studies from the Girl Scout Research Institute show that out-of-school-time programs in areas [e.g. arts, music, sports, community service and other enrichment activities] have been linked to positive outcomes, which includes academic success, and a decrease in negative outcomes, such as lower school dropout rates and a reduction in risk behavior. The Girl Scouts program is more than 100 years old, yet research and local Girl Scouts prove that it has not lost its impact and is still beneficial to all girls in grades kindergarten through 12.

Girl Scouts sustain during changing times

Although many girls may be busy with extracurricular school activities, the Girl Scouts have become more accommodating for girls today providing different options, such as virtual troops and series programs. Were in a time where we have to change the mindset of the community, Pauline Powell Russell, chief mission to market officer, Girl Scouts of Tropical Florida, said. [The community] only knows the old girl scouting, they dont know the new girl scouting, which is for all girls. Tiffany Willis-Gilmore started Troop 215, about a year ago. She liked that it was a beneficial and inexpensive program for her daughters. It is only $15 to be a girl scout member, however, the girls are exposed to various activities such as camping, entrepreneurial projects, community clean ups and other community service events. Troop 215 is a diverse troop with Black, Hispanic and white Girl Scouts. Willis-Gilmore said the program has helped the girls start serving their community at young ages and provided experiences that have helped them bond. Everyones self-esteem has boosted because they have a program that is not only structured, but is diversified. Willis-Gilmore said her 6-year-old loves Girls Scouts and her 13-year-old is excited that it gives her the opportunity to serve the community. However, one of the biggest challenges that the troop faces is finding adult volunteers to help and support the Girls Scouts. The troop encourages parents to volunteer. This is also a challenge of the Girl Scouts of Tropical Florida. For more information on volunteering, visit www.girlscoutsfl.org/adults. Children cant learn on their own, they need a teacher to help them, Russell said. Girls cant grow on their own. By Malika A. Wrightmwright@miamitimesonline.com