UW Sunday Column 8-17-14: Help girls find leadership voice with Girl Scouts

Pam Kovacevich
As originally published in the State Journal-Register, Our Towns section

Pam KIt’s that time of year again, and I’d like to invite you — a busy parent about to send your children back to school — to add one more thing to your long list of “to dos”: help your daughter find her leadership voice and further develop her character by registering as a Girl Scout.

In previous messages from Girl Scouts of Central Illinois, you have learned that Girl Scouting is about so much more than cookies, camp and crafts and that we delve into the areas of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), environmental stewardship, healthy living, the arts and community service, but what does that really mean for your daughter? How can the skills she learns through her Girl Scout experience help her be more successful in school? How can being a Girl Scout increase her odds of becoming a class leader or student body advocate? How can an hour or two a month help your daughter gain specific knowledge, skills, attitudes, behaviors and values?

We can answer those questions by pointing to the 15 outcomes that Girl Scout programming is designed to achieve. Every piece of Girl Scout programming your daughter experiences is structured so that she and her troop mates develop a strong sense of who they are.

We know that Girl Scouts have more leadership experiences than other girls and boys — more than three-quarters (78 percent) of Girl Scouts have had leadership experiences in out-of-school time activities, compared with 55 percent of a national sample of girls and 61 percent of boys. Being a Girl Scout puts tools in her toolbox that she may not have an opportunity to get anywhere else and helps her develop the courage to identify and work toward her goals.

While sports teach and hone sportsmanship and self-discipline, Girl Scouting teaches positive values, develops critical thinking, demonstrates financial literacy and allows girls to practice life skills in a safe, all-girl environment.

While cheer, gymnastics and dance all help prepare a girl in the areas of increasing agility and poise, Girl Scouts outcomes help girls develop healthy relationships.

Skills in promoting cooperation and team building and learning to embrace diversity will help not just your 5-year-old Daisy but will also set the course for your older Girl Scout about to go off to college or take on her first part-time job. As we put on our business hats, these skills are those that we seek in our new-to-the-workforce employees.

Finally, Girl Scouting fills a void for girls who are looking to find a way to make a difference in their schools and communities.
According to recent studies by the Girl Scout Research Institute, 73 percent of girls ages 11-12 reported improving the world around them as their favorite activity, and more young women aged 15-25 participate in charity and community service than young men. Girl Scouting teaches girls to identify community needs and be resourceful problem solvers when it comes to making improvements in those areas.

Girl Scouting educates girls on the skills necessary to make that difference in the world and to inspire others to do the same. More than 4,500 girls annually in the Springfield area are growing into leaders through our program—and we can’t wait for your girl to join their ranks.

Visit getyourgirlpower.org or call (877) 231-1446 to see the many ways Girl Scouting can help girls realize their amazing potential or to make a difference in the life of a girl by sharing your time and talents as a volunteer.

Pam Kovacevich is chief executive officer at Girl Scouts of Central Illinois. Look for United Way columns weekly in Our Towns.

Read the column as originally published in the SJ-R:http://www.sj-r.com/article/20140816/News/140819621