Girls: Our Time Is Now
North American Precis Syndicate
Gold Award Girl Scouts like Shelby O'Neil are making real change on today's pressing issues. (NAPS)
by Shelby O’Neil
(NAPSI)—No Straw November was officially recognized by the
California State Legislature largely because of me, a teenage girl who stood up
for what I believe in. Here’s how Girl Scouts helped me get to where I
Girl Scouts do much more than sell cookies: We’re the future
innovators, rocket scientists, CEOs, hedge fund managers, race car drivers,
congresswomen, environmental advocates and presidents.
From as young as five years old, Girl Scouts do awesome things for
ourselves, our communities, and the world. That includes earning the
organization’s most prestigious award for making sustainable and
positive change: the Girl Scout Gold Award.
For my Gold Award project, I decided to help eliminate unnecessary plastic
straws, which pollute our oceans. I launched No Straw November, a campaign
challenging people who don’t medically need a straw to say “No
straw, please” during the month. Due to my advocacy, the California
State Assembly now officially recognizes No Straw November in the state.
Additionally, through a letter-writing campaign to sustainability-minded
corporations such as Alaska Airlines, I received voluntary commitments to eliminate
over 27 million unnecessary single-use plastic straws, stirrers and citrus
I also teach children around the country about how their actions can
directly affect the ocean by establishing a nonprofit called Jr Ocean Guardians. And, Girl Scouts recently introduced
30 new badges, including Environmental Stewardship badges for all Girl Scout
grade levels, so now girls in kindergarten through 12th grade have
even more chances to learn about how to advocate for the environment.
People are shocked to learn I’m only 17 years old. But I don’t
think it’s strange that I’ve accomplished all of this, because I’m
a Girl Scout—it’s what we do. As a Girl Scout, I’ve
channeled my creative side while making cards for the residents of nursing
homes. I’ve learned how to create a great pitch through cookie sales. I’ve
even talked about environmental responsibility with the CEOs of large
companies. And I’ve gained tons of confidence from all of it.
Girl Scouts is about girls championing their inner explorer and change
maker. It motivated me to pursue my interests and to take on new adventures,
from kayaking to speaking in front of thousands of people. Over the years,
Girl Scouts has both encouraged me to explore the natural world and empowered
me to protect it.
There’s something about being in an all-girl environment, where the
pressure to be perfect is off the table. The replacement for this pressure? A
close-knit community of girls and women in which girls are encouraged to be
themselves; to speak up for what they believe in; and to help others, even
when it means facing failures and setbacks along the way. When I started to
educate people on single-use plastic, it wasn’t something that was in
the news as much as it is now, and many people weren’t receptive to my
message. Girl Scouts has given me the confidence and courage to speak up.
When girls have this kind of support system, there’s no limit to what
we can achieve.
Although Girl Scouts is known for its iconic cookies, the organization is
also where many amazing leaders got their start. In fact, 55 percent of women
in the 115th Congress are Girl Scout alums; every female Secretary
of State in U.S. history was a Girl Scout; and there are more than 50 million
Girl Scout alums. With over 10 million Girl Scouts and Girl Guides worldwide
today from 150 countries, Girl Scouts are an international family.
So if your only direct interaction with Girl Scouts is buying cookies,
never forget that you might be buying from a future CEO. We have so much to
offer the world.
• Shelby O’Neil is a
member of Girl Scouts of California’s Central Coast. To join or
volunteer, visit www.girlscouts.org/join.
Movement is over 2 million strong, and made up of girls and women who are encouraged
to be themselves, speak up for what they believe in, and make an impact on
their community and the world. #likeagirlscout http://bit.ly/2OLga2q”
On the Net:North American Precis Syndicate, Inc.(NAPSI)