ADVERTISEMENT

By Judith A. Maness

As I watch the news, it is becoming ever more disturbing to see the decisions that today’s youth are making, specifically young girls. Risky behaviors, bullying, self-objectification and fighting are growing among girls.

Girl Scouting can offer young girls a model for action, with experiences and achievement they need to counterbalance the negative influences that surround them.

The Girl Scout organization supports, empowers, educates and creates environments designed to build a girl’s confidence.

In fact, the Girl Scout mission spells it out briefly and clearly: “Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place.”

As a lifetime Girl Scout and board chair for the Girl Scouts of Western New York, I see firsthand how Girl Scouts is doing amazing things, for which we should all be proud. Here are three quick examples.

• One of our troops created a solar- powered milk pasteurization system picked by the Peace Corps for Nicaragua, where women were drinking unpasteurized milk and were experiencing a high rate of miscarriages and disease.

• Another troop that was learning about nutrition and healthy living wrote a letter to first lady Michelle Obama and received an invitation to join her in the White House garden. These girls received another invitation to join the first lady on the ABC television show “The View.”

• Finally, approximately 13 Girl Scouts took a “trip of a lifetime” to India.

Great life lessons are taught to children when they learn at an early age to volunteer their time in service to others. They learn the selfless act of giving and they experience the genuine satisfaction that comes when helping others.

In fact, the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor a girl can earn in Girl Scouting, is based on girls giving back to their local communities. This year, 63 girls in Girl Scouts of Western New York – 14 percent of those age-eligible in the regional Scout organization – earned their Gold Award. This is the highest percentage of awardees for any Girl Scout council in the United States.

If girls become a part of the Girl Scout organization at a young age, they will realize their value and come to understand that they have so much to give. I believe we will see these beautiful girls begin to make positive decisions and develop into the leaders that we need.

Judith A. Maness is president and chief executive officer of Mount St. Mary’s Hospital and Health Center in Lewiston.