Women Who Dared: Celebrating 110 Years of Trailblazing
It took extraordinary determination for women to create Girl Scouts of the USA 110 years ago. In an era when women were not even supposed to wear pants in public and in a time of far more extreme racism, women made a bold commitment to girls. During adverse societal conditions, when they had to BE the solution and believe in themselves as much as the girls who they served, these audacious women created an organization that has not just benefited the girls in Girl Scouts, but also the communities where they live.
One thing's for sure: If she's a Girl Scout, she's a trailblazer — and that trailblazing spirit is alive and well today, embodied in women and girls like these:
Once a Girl Scout, always a Girl Scout pretty much describes Rhonda Boston. At 7 years old, she joined her local troop in Clinton Hill, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. Thirty years later, she leads a large and vibrant Girl Scout community in that very same neighborhood. Boston continues to be a leader in her community, guiding the way for others to continue their Girl Scout journey long after they age out of being in a troop themselves. To her knowledge, at least 20,000 girls have come through her local troop center.
“We can do anything,” she believes. “We can get that message out forever. This is long-lasting. I see the future can be everything that we never even thought about. It’s going to be amazing.”
ANNA CLAIRE TILLEY
Anna Claire Tilley was on track to earn her Gold Award — the highest honor for a Girl Scout — when she noticed how difficult it was for people in her Arkansas community to vote. She chose to focus her Gold Award project around helping citizens register to vote and gain access to the polls. “As a high school Girl Scout, I had to learn how to stand up for myself and my cause in a room of politicians,” she explains.
Today, Tilley is an urban studies major at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. She plans to continue strategizing how to empower her community and make legislative reforms.
MADISON of Girl Scouts Greater NY
Madison began her Girl Scout journey as a Brownie, attending local meetings in the basement of Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. While attending the Girl Scouts of Greater New York Leadership Institute, Madison learned about the rising suicide rate amongst African-American adolescents and the startling trend in suicide among Black children. Driven to tackle this issue and bring awareness to it, Madison decided to center her Gold Award project on mental health among Black youth.
The largest component of Madison’s Gold Award project was putting on a virtual community seminar, which was no easy task. She reached out to politicians who could speak about mental health in her community, as well as older women, teenagers, and parents from her community. When she graduates from high school, she hopes to attend Columbia University and continue her advocacy.
As inspiring as they are, these are just a sample of the 2.5 million girls and women active in Girl Scouting today. With 110 years of trailblazing history behind them, the Girls Scouts of the USA are prepared to keep breaking new ground and reaching for the sky.