Achieving the Gold Award as a member of Girl Scouts of the USA is no easy task, especially during COVID-19, but sisters Amelia and Olivia Cox were both up for the challenge.
“I think we honestly got lucky, because I think we had a lot more time on our hands and it gave us something to do during that time,” Amelia said.
Currently, Amelia is a senior and Olivia a freshman at University High School, and both girls have been involved with Girl Scouts since a young age. Amelia started out as a Junior member in the third grade and Olivia started out as a Daisy member in kindergarten. Since then, the girls have stuck together, climbing their way up the ranks.
Only a handful of members achieve the organization’s highest honor, the Gold Award, every year, and having two gold winners under the same roof is even more unique. To achieve this award, members have to first earn the Bronze and Silver award through service activities. Once achieving those awards, the Girl Scout can take on a larger project to go for the Gold.
The Gold Award project requires hours of planning and execution, requiring Scouts to be active leaders, communicate with community members and commit at least 80 hours of service to their project.
Although both girls worked on their projects at the same time, projects have to be completed individually.
Amelia chose to help update the children’s area at Scott’s Run Settlement House. Located in Osage, Scott’s Run mainly offers resources to combat food insecurity.
When individuals come to use the organization’s resources, they often bring their children along with them. Through her project, she hoped to create a more comfortable environment for parents and their children while at Scott’s Run.
“They didn’t really have a place for their kids to go, so that’s why I helped to kind of spruce up their playroom,” Amelia said.
Shay Petitto, executive director at Scott’s Run, said along with upgrading the playroom, Amelia also bought new toys and designed hand-made dolls for children to enjoy.
“Whenever people come to a food pantry, they typically can feel uneasy [or] unsure. There’s lots of emotions when asking for help,” Petitto said. “Just having a warm space for the kids — it helps put the parents at ease.”
Noticing an increased demand for outdoor activities due to COVID-19, Olivia decided to partner with Coopers Rock State Forest alongside Coopers Rock assistant superintendent Brad Atkins. Her project required her to identify the best location for the project, communicate what type of project the park could benefit from and design a project that would be easiest to maintain.
“I wanted to do something so people could get outside and enjoy time with others,” Olivia said.
Using tree stumps, she learned how to stain and design them into chairs and tables with checker and chess boards on top for the community to use. Along with contributing something designed to last to the park, Olivia said she is glad to have gained hands-on skills she can use later in life.
After a long summer of service and dedication, both girls were officially awarded the Gold Award towards the end of 2020. As Amelia prepares for college and Olivia continues to work through high school, both said achievements like the Gold Award helped them develop important life and communication skills.
Julie Harris, Troop leader, said Amelia and Olivia’s dedication to service and leadership, as well as the commitment of all members, is a testament to the values of every girl involved in the Troop.
“They learn leadership skills, they learn organizational skills [and] they are empowered,” Harris said. “Most importantly, they have the opportunity to have fun.”