On October 11, people around the world recognize International Day of the Girl. The Girl Scouts of America are celebrating with this year's National Gold Award Girl Scouts. These ten girls are making big waves across the country.
"For my Gold Award, I developed an oral healthcare model with three foundational pillars; education, prevention and treatment targeting oral healthcare inequalities in low income communities in Georgia and the Bhalswa Slums District in India," said Siya K., one of the ten girls awarded the prestigious National Gold Award from the Girl Scouts of America.
She's educated 5,000 families across five states on dental health and distributed 130,000 dental supplies in Georgia and India. She was motivated to research preventative measures for oral cancer after she lost her grandmother to the disease several years ago.
"My health model has been embraced by dental offices, state dental associations, national mobile programs and schools in two countries. And to kind of further the reach of Help a Child Smile, I created a non-profit called Mila Foundation to kind of support the oral healthcare services provided by Help a Child Smile," said Siya K.
This year's National Gold Award Girl Scouts have done everything from create theater access for children with disabilities to engineer an insulin calculator app. Julia T. lobbied for menstrual equity in her home state of Colorado.
"Definitely, it began within my own high school where I saw a lot of girls struggling to handle their menstrual cycles with dignity and efficiency in the learning environment. Because of varying incomes in our school and also the lack of accessibility, it made it so that girls had a hard time being able to talk about such private matters with their teachers. So, they would have to leave school and miss class," said Julia T.
Julia was working with her local legislator to expand access to menstrual products in schools. The bill went to the House Committee for Education before the pandemic. She hopes to bring it back before legislators in the future.
"What I love about the Gold Award is it's really a culmination of the Girl Scout experience, because at every level girls are taught to take agency and action on issues they care about. With the Gold Award, it's the highest award you can earn in Girl Scouts," said Kelly Parisi, the VP of Executive and Brand Communications at the Girl Scouts of the USA.
Parisi says Gold Award Girl Scouts are tasked with developing long standing change for an issue they care about.
Each council across the country submits three of their most exceptional Gold Award Girl Scouts and a panel chooses the top ten.
"We are so proud of these ten National Gold Award Girl Scouts but we are equally as proud of thousands of girls across the country who earned their Gold Award and are looking to take action on issues in their community they care about," said Parisi.
Julia and Siya hope their achievements inspire other girls across the country to work hard and recognize the impact they can have on the world.
"The biggest thing I would say is dream big. Don't think that your issue is too big to solve. Just focus on taking small steps at a time. Don't be afraid in reaching out to people and connecting with people because people are more than willing to help," said Siya.
"I believe policy makers want to hear from you on the issues that affect you and your demographic so just taking advantage of being a youth and having that sort of power where people want to hear your voice on how matters affect you and just be incredibly persistent in the face of opposition," said Julia.
As part of earning a National Gold Award, these ten girl scouts will also receive tens of thousands of dollars in college scholarship money.