Girl Scouts Tropical Florida recently announced that Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) named Kelly Culhane a 2018 National Gold Award Girl Scout, the organization’s most prestigious honor.
Kelly is the first Girl Scout from Miami and the Keys to achieve this highest national honor. GSUSA selects 10 National Gold Award Girl Scouts (formerly known as the National Young Women of Distinction) annually among candidates who have earned their Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest award a Girl Scout can earn, and one that is only available to Girl Scouts.
By designing and implementing extraordinary projects of measurable, sustainable, and far-reaching impact, these girls demonstrate a steadfast commitment, as well as a stunning ability, to create true change.
Each year, thousands of girls in grades 9-12 nationwide are recognized as Gold Award Girl Scouts for transforming an idea and vision for change into an actionable plan with strong impact on local, national, and global levels. Approximately 5 percent of Girl Scouts earn their Gold Award each year — and just 10 girls in this high-achieving group receive the National Gold Award Girl Scout distinction. Applications are judged by previous National Gold Award Girl Scouts, leaders from a diverse array of professional fields, GSUSA executives, and a representative from the Kappa Delta Foundation.
For her Gold Award project, Kelly Culhane, a senior at Miami Palmetto High School, partnered with the Ear Peace: Save Your Hearing Foundation, an educational nonprofit organization.
A massive 1.1 billion young people worldwide are at risk for noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), and one in five teens in the United States now has NIHL by age 19 due to their exposure to damaging levels of sound from personal audio devices and noisy entertainment venues.
Kelly set out to inform teens, parents, and educators about this permanent, yet preventable, form of hearing damage. Working with Ear Peace: Save Your Hearing Foundation, she scripted, filmed, and edited an educational video, Band Together to Protect Your Hearing, which is used in the foundation’s teacher training workshops for 392 schools in Miami-Dade County (www.earpeacefoundation.org/protect-a-band).
She has educated elementary and high school students about hearing conservation, presented on this topic at a statewide music educator’s conference, and presented to 125 teachers at a professional development workshop. Kelly also has created and distributed educational posters and informative brochures to pediatric offices and hospitals statewide. She plans to expand this distribution to a nationwide campaign.
Research verifies that participating in Girl Scouts and earning the Gold Award are linked to developing crucial leadership skills and advanced achievements. In addition to Girl Scouts being more than twice as likely than other girls to identify and solve problems in their communities, they over index when it comes to seeking challenges and learning from setbacks, having confidence in themselves and their leadership abilities, and forming and maintaining healthy relationships.
The majority of women who earned their Gold Award display more positive life outcomes compared with women who did not participate in Girl Scouts in their youth, including being more optimistic about their future; seeing themselves as leaders, and being more civically engaged, particularly in politics.
“We are extraordinarily proud of Kelly, and all our Gold Award Girl Scouts, for exemplifying the values of Girl Scouts and commitment to serving our community with such important work,” said Chelsea Wilkerson, CEO, Girl Scouts Tropical Florida.
To honor the National Gold Award Girl Scouts, a combined $100,000 in college scholarships, which includes $10,000 for Kelly, has been provided by Susan Bulkeley Butler, founder of the Susan Bulkeley Butler Institute for the Development of Women Leaders and former member of the Girl Scouts of the USA Board of Directors.
The Kappa Delta Foundation has granted the selected girls a combined $50,000 in college scholarships, reflecting its commitment to girls’ leadership and pursuit of education. This includes $5,000 for Kelly.
Finally, Arconic Foundation has granted the 10 young women a combined $50,000 in college scholarships, including $5,000 for Kelly.
Being honored as a National Gold Award Girl Scout, earning the Girl Scout Gold Award, and receiving generous scholarships are just a few of the countless incredible experiences girls have through Girl Scouts.
To join or volunteer, visit www.girlscouts.org/join.