Eight Ridgefield Girl Scouts earn Gold Awards

Ridgefield Girl Scouts — Charlotte Anglade, Lauren Castle, Megan Del Giudice, Erin Hanlon, Elizabeth Jasminksi, Bridget Kager, Abigail Morris, and Keleigh Zuckert — have earned the Gold Award, the highest award in girl scouting. 
They were recognized at the organization’s Gold Award Celebration on June 2 at Cascades in Hamden.
The Girl Scout Gold Award requires Girl Scouts in grades 9-12 to spend at least 80 hours researching issues, assessing community needs and resources, building a team, and making a sustainable impact in the community. A Gold Award Girl Scout’s accomplishments reflect leadership and citizenship skills that set her apart as a community leader. Nationally, only six percent of older Girl Scouts earn the Gold Award.
To address issues of mental health in teen girls, Charlotte Anglade renovated a room in Danbury’s Family and Children’s Aid group home, creating a relaxation space replete with yoga mats, a miniature library, journals, an essential-oils diffuser, and an outdoor garden. Her room and website (girlsdestress.com) serves the community to this day. She will graduate from Ridgefield High School in 2020.
Lauren Castle attended to kindergarten-age children who had not gone to preschool. Her literacy project, “The Right Start,” included read-aloud circles and book-related activities, and the culminating book drive enabled her to send each child home with 19 kindergarten-level books. The host school, located in Danbury, will sustain the program in future years, enabling students to enter school armed with literacy and social skills. After graduating from Ridgefield High School this spring, she envisions herself pursuing a career in STEM.

Megan Del Giudice wanted to encourage sustainability and waste reduction in her community. She worked with the Boys and Girls Club of Ridgefield to create a compost bin for the club’s garden, and she designed after-school programs on the benefits of composting and caring for the environment. The community continues to compost for their own gardens as a result and has already produced a healthy crop of fruits and vegetables.
In pursuing her Gold Award, she appreciated the opportunity to follow a big project through to the end. She graduates from Ridgefield High School this year and is considering a college major in marine biology, environmental studies, or law.

Erin Hanlon observed the limited availability of STEM courses in Danbury, so she hosted a “Day of STEM” at Danbury’s Park Avenue Elementary School. 
Fifth grade students at the school participated in workshops covering topics from circuitry to orthopedics. The National Honor Society at Ridgefield High School, of which Erin is an alumna, will transform the day into an annual event. Erin now majors in mechanical engineering and minors in biomedical engineering at Villanova. Her goal is to work as a pediatric surgeon.
Elizabeth Jasminksi’s STEM Summer Learning Program helped to counteract the effects of learning loss during the summer holiday. She started the program after finding that the majority of summer-school students struggled with math and science. A supplemental website contains lesson plans and further resources. She hopes to major in a liberal-arts field.
Bridget Kager wanted to help local children who found themselves in emergency foster care, so she provided support to Family & Children’s Aid in Danbury.
In addition to filling backpacks with toiletries and homemade blankets, Bridget built a bookcase and donated books to the nearby Harmony House Women’s Shelter. To publicize her work, she created a YouTube video for Family & Children’s Aid and described the project in three leadership talks across Bethel, Brookfield, and Danbury. Countless children will benefit from her care efforts. Bridget graduated with Ridgefield High School’s Class of 2019.
To raise awareness of eating disorders and methods of establishing balanced, healthy eating habits, Abigail Morris worked with the health department at her school to design a two- to three-day informational course which examines social attitudes toward food and diet culture. She also created a PowerPoint for the senior health curriculum describing the links between body image and eating disorders.
Abigail’s collaboration with the social-emotional empowerment group Project Resilience led to a panel event, which featured three health specialists and an eating-disorder survivor as panelists. Abigail is striving to create a healthier future for Americans by helping them identify the distorted messages they receive, the harmful patterns in their treatment of their own bodies, and the techniques that will help them combat and prevent eating disorders. She’s a member of Ridgefield High School’s Class of 2019.
Overseen by Keleigh Zuckert, “VBS Plus” taught elementary and middle-school students about faith, service, and responsibility. The middle school participants completed local projects like a wheelchair wash and food pantry donations. Keleigh will distribute binders full of service-project materials to local churches, hoping the program will grow and help more and more young people to become active contributors to their religious and secular communities. She graduates from Immaculate High School this year and hopes to study elementary education.
“I am so proud of all of our Gold Award Girl Scouts for taking the lead and spending over 80 hours solving real problems in their communities,” said Mary Barneby, CEO, Girl Scouts of Connecticut. “Nationally, less than six percent of girls earn the highest award in girl scouting. By earning this award, Girl Scouts set themselves apart as leaders in their community and true examples of go-getters, innovators, risk-takers, and leaders.”
For more information about the Gold Award or how to become a Gold Award volunteer or mentor, visit gsofct.org