Q. What inspired your Gold Award project?
A. My grandmother was the initial inspiration for my project. She was a sewer and loved crafting. As my project idea matured, my inspiration grew further into knitting after a knitting class I took with my mother. It was a class of maybe five women all of them 60+ in age. I enjoyed talking with them about everything you could think of and learning something new in the process. I wanted to be able to incorporate my grandmother and my knitting class into a community project.
Q. Short description of your project?
A. My project titled “Knitting Know-How” aimed to reintroduce textile arts back into the community. A few years ago I took a knitting class with my mom and some elderly women. I really enjoyed learning how to knit and having conversations that included three generations of women. I wanted to bring that back to a community who in recent years has seen a larger separation between age groups. I along with my team worked to bring knitting, crocheting and crafting classes to youth, adults, and seniors giving them the skill to not only craft but converse.
Q. What were the results or impact of your project?
A. People of different ages are in different stages of their lives. Children are learning and exploring the world, youth are beginning to think critically about the world around them, adults are applying what they’ve learned, and seniors are reflecting on the changes they’ve made in the community. I mainly worked on this project at senior housing facilities (Tanner Gardens, Grandfamilies, Tanner Terrace, Washington Pointe). However, I also taught classes at my Girl Scout troop meetings and at my house. For each group, the issue and the impact were targeted differently but still interconnected. Children aren’t being exposed to crafts like their grandparents were when they were kids. Kids have electronic devices to entertain them. However, they miss out on benefits that come from crafting. Kids who craft are more creative, they process information more efficiently, and learn how to write faster. In youth, the issue is like that of the younger children, they haven’t been exposed to crafting.
However, those who do learn how to craft can better process mood swings and emotions; as crafting can act as a self-calming habit. These same tweens and teens who practice self-calming habits are less likely to use drugs or drink alcohol. Adults may have done crafts as a kid but don’t realize that the same crafts they used to make can help reduce stress in their present. There are a wide array of coloring books for adults and mini crafts like needlework and latch-hook that can be done on break at work or in between errands. Seniors have been exposed to crafting the most but for many, they haven’t practiced it in a long time. The benefits of crafting to seniors are retained memory, a stronger grip, and a confidence boost.
Through this project, I am proud to say that I have accomplished that goal. The youngest person I worked with on crafts was only two years old and the oldest person I worked with was in their upper 80’s. It was so adorable to see the children get excited when they made reindeer ornaments and pom-pom creatures. I remember one little boy would show his grandma and grandpa his craft each time he put something new on it. When I worked with the tweens, It was amazing to see all the creative twist they put on their pom-pom crafts. The Cadettes in my troop said. “We could use these pom poms as swaps!” and were willing to teach the brownies how to make them. For adults and seniors, both groups were stressed and lacked confidence. A lot of them were afraid to make mistakes and were afraid that their ideas weren’t good enough. I really worked with them on getting comfortable with themselves and not being afraid to take risks. I saw the most growth in this group. People who would just come to watch because they were afraid eventually joined us in crafting. Knitters and crocheters who couldn’t get past the first row finally made progress with the first few stitches. In one of the final classes I held, one of the women said to me “Thank you so much, we really appreciate everything your doing keep doing great things.” At another property, the manager asked us if we could come back to continue crafting classes. In another class, one of the adults said: “This is really cool.” Hearing everyone’s feedback, and the positive impact my project had on them made everything worthwhile. I feel that this captured the success of my project.
Q. What important lessons did you learn about yourself?
A. Through this project, I learned to follow as I lead. There are always people you’ll lead, and people you’ll follow, and you have to learn to respect that. Everyone is in the struggle of life together and we all could use a leg up or lend a leg up at times. I did this project while I was concurrently enrolled in college. Because I was homeschooled, I was able to go to college full time. While this was an amazing experience it was quite challenging trying to manage school and Girl Scouts. I would wake up early every morning to catch the city bus to school. I would go to my classes often having tests and essays due and once my classes were over my mom would pick me up to take me to my crafting classes. Once I was done with my project classes, I would get home and have to do homework, cook dinner, and respond to emails from my Gold Award team. It took a lot of discipline and time management to get myself into the habit of doing this every week. However, I think it groomed me for more real-world experiences. I now feel more prepared this school year as a start my second year of college after finishing high school in just three years.
Q. How long have you been a Girl Scout?
A. I have been an active Girl Scout for eight years.
Q. What has Girl Scouting meant to you or what impact has it had on your life?
A. Girl Scouts has been a part of my life for nearly half of my life. I grew from a little nine-year-old girl who had never gone camping, never sold cookies and had never planned community service projects. I met so many of my friends through Girl Scouts. We would always have the best times together! My friends also varied in age. I looked up to the older girls as mentors and the younger girls were my mentees. I saw girls bridge out and new ones come in. I saw daisy Girl Scouts bridging to senior girl scouts. I learned really cool random stuff too! Like how to make friendship bracelets, how to make a boat out of cardboard and duct tape, and how to make ice cream with an ice-cream churner in twenty-degree weather! Though at first all of these things seemed unimportant, I quickly learned how much impact they had on my life. Looking back I think that making those bracelets inspired me to take up knitting. Selling cookies helped me to learn how money works and got me prepared for my first bank account. Building cardboard boats helped me to learn how to communicate and work with a team. Churning the ice cream in the cold taught me perserverance and delayed gratification. Camping, perhaps the most meaningful to me directly affected my career. I recently went on a field study trip with my Geology class to the Grand Canyon. Everyone on the trip was considerably older than me, but one of the girls had never set up a tent before. When she told me I was happy to help her out and teach the ropes of tent building. I was surprised that Girl Scouts had taught me something so important to my field of study!
Q. What high school do/did you attend?
A. I am homeschooled and am concurrently enrolled at Phoenix College.
Q. What are your future plans, after high school?
A. Now that I’ve graduated a year early, I plan to continue my education at Phoenix College and earn my Associates in Science. After graduating from Phoenix College, I plan on transferring to ASU to get my Bachelors in Geoscience, and hopefully my Master’s and Ph.D. in Seismology or Hydrology. After college, my goal is to work with the US Geological Survey in their hydrology or seismology sector. I hope that I will be able to travel to places like Iceland, Japan, and Indonesia to study the geological sites there.
Q. Any other interesting information about yourself?
A. My favorite part of this project was working with my foster brothers, the neighbor’s kids, and my god-sister. My foster brothers were in my life for four years. We grew up together and they were the closest things to real siblings to me. The oldest one was developmental, cognitively, and dexterities delayed. He had autism and suffered from epilepsy, but he would be so determined to learn how to knit. Every day he would come home from school and ask me to work with him on his knitting loom. Although he never got past the first row he always kept trying. Now the two of them have gone to live with family and although I miss them I’m happy for them and their family. My neighbor’s kids would come over everyday before and after school. My brothers and their kids all went to the same school so I would walk with them and play with them. Granted the oldest of the group was only in third grade except for the outlier, my brother who was in 7th. I enjoyed working with them on arts and crafts and even bringing the little six-year-old with me to one of my classes. My god-sister who has also been my bestie since birth also helped me teach one of my classes. She’s thirteen and has a nack for arts and crafts. I always enjoy doing things with her because it makes them ten times more fun!