MaryTherese Gehrmann has achieved the Gold Award, the highest award in Girl Scouts, by painting a mural in the Davenport CASI Senior Center that is designed to refresh memories for patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia. The artwork, “A Mural to Remember” is based off of Iowa scenery and includes bright, beautiful flowers and trees to stimulate brain activity.
In her research, MaryTherese found that there are many potential treatments for Alzheimer’s, but little proof that the treatments are completely effective. She wanted to offer residents at CASI, the potential to increase their memories through art. She encourages other facilities to adopt this potential treatment and she has created a brochure about her project and the method of visual stimulation to assist decision makers at nursing homes.
Read what MaryTherese has to say about her project and the value of Girl Scouts!
What inspired your Gold Award project?
Having grown up with two grandparents suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, I had a great deal of experience with dementia and its effects. Because my grandparents lived in Arizona, I was not able to build a relationship with them, until they had moved back to Bettendorf for better care. For me, this meant starting a new relationship with a family member but also losing a family member at the same time. Every so often, my father would receive emails from my great aunt on different theories on ways to treat Alzheimer’s disease; however, none of the ideas worked since currently no cure exists. With my passion for painting, my grandparent’s struggle inspired me to help the millions of other people in the world who suffer from dementia. And so, I combined my grandparent’s stories, my passion for painting, and my immense interest in Neuroscience to start something that could help not only dementia patients but also their families.
How long have you been a Girl Scout?
Including this year, I have been a Girl Scout for a total of nine years. In fourth grade, I had started Girl Scouts after being hooked by a fun game of frogger at the meeting. Ever since that meeting, I have been able to participate in amazing activities and trips such as Boundary Waters camping, zip lining at Camp Wapsi, white water rafting in Colorado, hiking in the Rocky Mountain National Park, rock climbing at Devils Lake Wisconsin, and much more. Besides sparking the adventure inside of me, Girl Scouts has given me the opportunity to be a leader and a role model through being a Program Aid, two term Girl Board Member, and National Delegate at the 2017 National Convention.
What do you love about Girl Scouting?
The thing I love the most about Girl Scouts is the millions of opportunities the program has to offer. No matter your interests, Girl Scouts has a place for you. Whether you like STEM, facing your fears, learning a new skill, finding friends, or trying something new, Girl Scouts is the place for you no matter what age.
What is your next step after earning your Gold Award?
After earning my Gold Award, I plan to pursue a double major in Chemistry and German at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. From there, I plan to apply to medical school to hopefully pursue a career in surgery. In the meantime, I am looking forward to finishing up my senior year at Bettendorf High School and spending the summer traveling with friends.
About the Gold Award
A Girl Scout Gold Award project must tackle a broad spectrum of important issues and a young woman who has earned her Gold Award has become a community leader in the truest sense.
Since 1916, Girl Scouts have been making meaningful, sustainable change in their communities and around the world. The Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor a Girl Scout can earn, acknowledges the power behind each recipient’s dedication to not only empowering and bettering herself, but also to making the world a better place for others. These young women are courageous leaders and visionary change makers. They are our future, and it looks bright!
The steps to becoming a Gold Award Girl Scout are rooted in the Girl Scout Leadership Experience. To achieve this honor, a girl must:
- Choose an issue she cares about.
- Investigate everything she can about the issue.
- Get help by inviting others to support and take action with her.
- Create a plan that achieves sustainable and measurable impact.
- Present her plan and get feedback from the Girl Scout council.
- Take action to carry out her plan.
- Educate and inspire others with what she experienced.
- Complete at least 80 hours working on the project.