Claudia Gay from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has achieved the Gold Award, the highest award a Girl Scout can earn, for partnering with Abbe Center for Community Mental Health to bring Teen Mental Health First Aid to West Delaware High School.
As a high school student, Claudia regularly witnessed the impact of a lack of mental health resources for her peers.
“Every day walking through my halls, I can see students that are struggling,” says Claudia. “Kids often miss class, are unable to pay attention, have an increased risk of substance abuse, or even commit suicide due to a lack of awareness and knowledge of what to do.”
Mental health resources for teens are limited, and there is often a lack of awareness of life-saving information. While some Mental Health First Aid training is available for adults, teens do not always feel comfortable going to adults. To address this issue in her school, Claudia worked to connect West Delaware High School with Abbe Center for Community Mental Health to teach teen mental Health First Aid to high school staff.
To provide vital mental health resources for West Delaware High School, Claudia needed to raise funds to support the new program. She spent many hours researching grants, creating budgets, and coordinating with high school staff and Abbe Center staff. Ultimately, her first grant was denied, so she pivoted to find new funding sources.
“When the grant was denied, I was crushed and was not sure what else I could do. Luckily, I had a team who was able to brainstorm and work together to get another grant application completed,” she says. “The most successful part of my project was assembling a team that included an agency that wanted to help bring Teen Mental Health First Aid to my area, staff members at the agency who want to be trained to teach Teen Mental First Aid, and a school district who wants Teen Mental Health First Aid and is willing to work with the agency and staff.”
Through achieving the Gold Award, Claudia formed a community that will passionately work towards providing better mental health resources for local teens.
The Gold Award is the highest achievement a Girl Scout can earn, available to girls in high school who create sustainable change on a community or world issue. Gold Award Girl Scouts address the root cause of a problem, plan and implement innovative solutions to drive change, and lead a team of people to success. As they take action to transform their world, Gold Award Girl Scouts gain tangible skills and prove they are the leaders our community and the world need.