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Gold Award Girl Scout Supports Self Care

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Shelby Ryan from West Burlington, Iowa, has achieved the Gold Award, the highest award a Girl Scout can achieve, by creating extensive self-care and self-esteem improvement programs for other girls in her community.

“With social media and non-realistic standards of what beauty is, girls all across the world have faced troubles over loving themselves for who they are and how to love their own skin, without comparing themselves properly,” says Shelby.

The Gold Award Girl Scout brought two new initiatives to her community to help middle and high school girls improve their self-esteem. First, she established a system for girls at West Burlington High School to have access to personal hygiene products. After collecting donated supplies, she created baskets in the restrooms at her school and refilled them every two weeks.

Then, she created a workshop for middle school girls struggling with loving themselves and communicating how they feel. On the first day of her workshop, she surveyed participants and discovers the girls in grades 6-8 did not realize their own beauty. By the last day of the workshop, she surveyed the girls again and found improvement in all areas.

“There was a complete turn of their answers, and it made me realize I accomplished my goals,” she says. “Both staff and students come up to me and mention how the participants in my workshops have all changed for the better.”

Lunch supervisors even noticed that workshop participants had developed a close bond, and no one was sitting alone at lunch anymore. The girls from the workshop still reach out to Shelby and keep connected online.

“During my Gold Award project, I learned a lot about myself. I learned that even the smallest of actions could create an impact on people,” she says.


How long have you been a Girl Scout?

I have been in the Girl Scout Troop 9180 since I was in Kindergarten, so this will be my 13th year.

What inspired your Gold Award project?

My project advisor, Jenell Martin, came up to me one day and asked if I had any ideas for my Gold Award project. She mentioned the impact of period poverty at my school, so with her bringing that up to me, I started to become inspired to hit the ground running with my project. When creating my project, I realized that I wanted to do more than just supplying my school’s restrooms with essential personal hygiene supplies, so I decided to ask my school principal and counselor if it would be possible to lead workshops to girls at my school about self-esteem and creating healthy communication habits.

What do you love about Girl Scouting?

One of my most favorite things about Girl Scouting is the bond you create with your troop mates. I am thankful enough to have very close friends in my troop, and I have always cherished when we went volunteering together or went camping at Camp L-Kee-Ta for our meetings. I know that I have developed close friendships that will last all of my lifetime.

What role has Girl Scouts played in your life?

Girl Scouts has taught me so many things. I learned so many important life lessons about treating others with kindness and respecting everyone you meet. There are so many ethical skills you learn from being a Girl Scout, and I would not be the person I am today without being in Girl Scouts.

What is your next step after earning your Gold Award?

After earning my Gold Award, I have been focused on making sure donations will be continuing after I go to Drake University next year for college. I have faith in my project advisor and my school’s counselor that they will do a great job continuing my project in many years to come.

Learn more about the Girl Scout Gold Award and the steps to achieve this distinguished honor.

Photo provided by Taylored Images Photography.