NORTH SALEM, N.Y. – Eight North Salem students have earned the Girl Scouts Silver Award, the highest level for seventh- and eighth-graders and second only to the Gold Award, limited to high school students.
To earn the Silver Award, a scout must devote 50 or more hours to a “Take Action” project, designed to improve some aspect of the community on a long-range basis. Each girl chooses a topic about which she is passionate and one which she believes will inspire positive change.
“It takes about a year to fulfill the commitment,” said Deirdre Coughlin, troop leader and Silver Award mentor. “Fifty hours doesn’t seem like that much when you begin, but it ends up taking a long time.”
For example, the combined efforts of Heather and Hannah Pastore and Carolyn Diamond, whose project was Dancing with Disabilities, came to more than 150 hours. They choreographed a dance routine and held workshops over the summer at North Salem’s Westchester Exceptional Children’s School, teaching the routine to the students. They left behind a CD so the program can be continued without them.
Olivia Marino and Julia D’Innocenzo teamed to make seatbelt pillows for drivers who have undergone breast surgery and need a gentle barrier from the tension of the belt. About 200 pillows were completed and donated to local hospitals, along with the pattern for sewing more.
Working independently, Charlotte Coughlin put together a booklet for novice troop leaders, offering suggestions for projects, crafts, outdoor adventures and community service activities.
Amanda Siciliano organized a Healthy Habits workshop, where she taught young girls about healthy eating habits and the importance of exercise. She distributed pamphlets and compiled a cookbook of healthy recipes.
Anastasia Pennacchio mentored a workshop at Mountain Lakes Camp, teaching campers to make sun catchers to hang in windows and reflect light. The catchers were then donated to brighten windows in local nursing homes.
“Not everyone goes for a Silver Award,” said Coughlin. “But for those who do, it makes a big difference in their lives. The girls get as much out of it as the recipients.”