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Gold Award Girl Scout: Madelyn Letendre, Colorado Springs, “The Buddies Club”

What did you do for your Gold Award project?   

For my Gold Award, I created the Buddies Club. The Buddies Club partners a student with disabilities and a non-disabled peer to form a long-lasting friendship, improving social skills and reducing stereotypes. As a club, we tie-dye shirts; play board games; carve pumpkins; and play basketball. The club is a way to foster experiences between students who otherwise would not interact. Through the Buddies Club, students with disabilities are able to foster friendships and, perhaps more importantly, learn interpersonal skills to interact with others in the real world.

How did you measure the impact your Gold Award project made on your target audience?

I administered a survey to all members of the club, both disabled students and Buddies. I asked students with disabilities  if they had gained a friend, if they felt more included in the school, and if they had learned more social skills. I asked Buddies if they had gained a friend, if they were more likely to interact with people with disabilities in the future, and if they had witnessed greater inclusivity in the school. After surveying the Buddies and students with disabilities in my club, there was an overwhelming consensus that the club helped students make new friends and encouraged inclusivity in the school. Students with disabilities felt like they had learned new social skills. Buddies in my club also noted the club had helped encourage all students in my school to be more inclusive, but it had to be an ongoing process to create lasting change. They all said they were more likely to interact with disabled students in the future.

How is your project sustainable? How will your project continue to impact after your involvement?                        

My Gold Award will be sustained beyond my involvement as I have guaranteed the continuation of my club. I have signed confirmation from both the next president of the club and the teacher sponsor of the club to continue running and promoting the Buddies Club. Additionally, my website ( https://the-buddies-club.weebly.com/) allows others to create and run the Buddies Club in their communities. I visited other school districts in my community and distributed materials and resources to kickstart Buddies Club programs in those communities.

What is your project’s global and/or national connection?                                 

Sixty-percent of students with disabilities report being bullied regularly, the exclusion of students with disabilities is not limited to my school; it occurs in every elementary school, middle school, and high school in America. To address global exclusion in clubs and social aspects of high school, I created a website detailing how to replicate my club. The website streamlined the process of creating a Buddies Club at other schools, easily and concisely communicating my research and my project. Finally, I gave presentations to community members and organizations, spreading my club and website to other communities to kick-start the process in other schools. 

What did you learn about yourself?        

This project was an eye-opening experience from start to finish. I have led other community-service projects, but none of this magnitude and difficulty. Although I learned a huge number of skills, like communication and organization, I also learned intrinsic things about myself. Most importantly, I learned about my love for helping others, especially those in the disabled community. Witnessing the differences my project made in my school has encouraged me to pursue a career in healthcare for people with disabilities.

How will earning your Gold Award impact you in the future?                   

Earning my Gold Award has inspired me to further my investment in disability topics throughout college and make a change in the real world. I hope to study biochemistry and pre-medical sciences in college .My current research is an isolated view of disabilities, only considering classroom inclusion. Using the expanded opportunities in college, I can interweave topics about disabilities to investigate medical, social, educational, and political implications. I will apply my education to my community, finding solutions to problems for people with disabilities. 

Why do you feel the Gold Award was an important part of your Girl Scout experience?

For me, the Gold Award project was the culmination of 12 years of Girl Scouts. The skills that I’ve learned, since being a Daisy, have contributed to my success in this project. I will be graduating high school (and Girl Scouts!) this May. Recieving my Gold Award is a reflection of my incredible and transformative years in scouting.

How did earning your Gold Award help you become a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader)?

This project helped me become a G.I.R.L. by pushing me to become an innovator. I had to come up with a creative solution to an incredibly complex problem. Through extensive research and planning, I organized a one-of-a-kind club that helps combat the exclusion of students with disabilities. My project also helped me grow in the other three aspects of GIRL (go-getter, risk-taker, and leader), but I feel as though I grew the most as an innovator.

**IMPORTANT NOTE: This blog represents only a small fraction of the hard work, dedication, and requirements that go into earning a Girl Scout Gold Award. It is simply a brief summary, which is meant to inspire Girl Scouts to Go Gold in the future. For more information on earning your Gold Award, please email highestawards@gscolorado.org.

#PalmerRidgeHighSchool #GoldAward #HighestAwards #ColoradoSprings #GoldAwardGirlScout #GirlScoutGoldAward #TakeAction #PikesPeak

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