Girl Scout create mental health program as part of Gold Award project | News

TRINITY — Emma Wegener is raising mental health awareness for her fellow Girl Scouts by creating a special new patch as part of her Gold Award project.

The Mental Health Awareness Patch is for girls by girls, and as a member of Girl Scout Troop 1142, Emma designed the self-guided program to be completed in five steps. Scouts will learn about mental wellness, mental health disorders, hotlines and support groups, as well as how to have a conversation about their mental wellness with a trusted individual.

Emma is currently a senior at Anclote High School and she participates in the Cambridge Program, which is similar to the Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs. She has already earned her Cambridge degree with distinction all while being dual-enrolled.

“Throughout middle and high school, I noticed a lack of education being presented to students in regard to mental health,” Emma said. “There was a lot of misuse of mental health terms, all while individuals were struggling with their mental health problems, and it was not being addressed. I wanted to create this patch based around what I wished I had been taught during those years and I wanted to provide that to Girl Scouts in an educational manner.”

As part of this project, Emma created a website to enable Girl Scouts from across the United States and internationally to interact with materials and to survey their knowledge of mental health before and after they read through the five steps. Based on the data from her website, Emma said, “There’s a clear improvement that this program has done something beneficial for these girls.”

Emma is sponsored by Elizabeth Statzer of The Vincent House, and Statzer was able to provide Emma with insight from her background in the mental health field. Emma also performed independent research and she is in her second year of taking a college-level psychology class, which helped with her understanding of mental illnesses and background.

“Considering how mental health affects all of the middle and high school population very significantly, it’s about how the Girl Scouts are supposed to be leaders and caregivers,” Emma said. “I want to help these girls to be able to lead their community to a more healthier mindset.”

Emma designed the patch herself, which is a green ribbon with a gold stripe. The green represents mental health and is also famously known as the color of the Girl Scouts uniform. The gold stripe is a nod toward Emma’s Gold award.

Learning the Girl Scout values ​​means being able to give back to the community, being a leader, and making a difference. Through her experience with her troop, Emma said it was important for her to pass onto these scouts the knowledge that it’s okay to reach out for help and it’s okay to feel these feelings. She said she wished someone could have told her that when she was in middle school.

Emma said her favorite aspect of being a Girl Scout is the opportunities it presents, like fundraising for certain goals, and she loves how the Girl Scouts can be whatever you want to make it, as long as it’s beneficial to the girls’ education or the community — such as travel troops, and STEM-focused troops.

“I really loved this one time I went to the Carolinas with my troop and we got to go to a remote private stargazing,” Emma said. “It was all so clear because there was no light pollution for miles, and you don’t even realize how many stars there are because they’re so distant, but you could see them all there.”

Before Emma can receive the Gold Award, she has to submit paperwork and report the impact of her project in front of the council for the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida. The project so far has taken Emma two years to complete. She hopes to go in front of the council in the next few months.

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