As recent college grads new to Washington, D.C., we knew that volunteering would be a great way to get involved in our new community and began looking for ways to help empower and engage young girls. The Girl Scouts of the Nation’s Capital Young Leaders program was the perfect fit. The Young Leaders Program is designed to engage college students and young professionals as Girl Scout Troop leaders for underserved communities throughout the Greater Washington Region.
The three of us opted to lead a sampler troop at an elementary school in Anacostia. Sampler troops meet for 6-8 weeks with underserved and at-risk communities throughout the region, allowing young girls who might otherwise be unaware of Girl Scouts the opportunity to participate. At the end of the program the girls are officially inducted into Girl Scouts.
As troop leaders, we used the Girl Scouts Healthy Habits guides, which are designed to cater to younger Girl Scouts (Daisy, Brownie, Junior) and incorporate Together Counts™ content. The guides provide information and activities to effectively facilitate sampler troops and encourage girls to live active, healthy lives.
One of the most popular lessons focused on the importance of water preservation. To help the girls become mindful of our natural resources, we made an obstacle course for our girls to navigate in order to get water. The activity helped our troop understand how difficult it is for some people in other parts of the world to obtain a resource we have access to by simply turning on the tap.
Our girls also loved the “energy in-energy out” game. Standing in a circle, we used a ball to educate our troop on energy balance. During the activity, we threw the ball back and forth, providing examples of foods and beverages that put energy into our bodies and activities that expend energy from our bodies.
In one instance, Alli offered “Zumba!” as an example of an “energy out” activity. The girls all looked at her like she was crazy, having never heard of Zumba. Since we knew the girls love to dance, we grabbed the opportunity to get active and led a quick ten-minute Zumba class. Sure enough, the girls were hooked! Dancing became a necessary part of each future meeting.
Discovering the Young Leaders Program has been such a blessing. We developed new friendships and served as positive role models for the young girls in our troop. This program offers girls something to look forward to, connecting them with something bigger than their immediate environment. This sampler troop taught the girls not only about living a healthy lifestyle, but also about confidence and self-worth. The Healthy Habits booklets prompted conversations about making healthy choices and setting goals not only for day-to-day life, but for their future. It was a privilege to spend time with our Girl Scout troop and to teach and learn from them too.
The Young Leaders Program is an excellent way to engage young college leaders and professionals to become Girl Scout volunteers and positively affect change in their community. It would be a great addition to other cities around the nation! To learn more about the Together Counts Girl Scouts program, visit TogetherCounts.com/at-home/scouts.
Amirah Heath, Alli Delano and Sarah Hugenberg all live in Washington, DC. Amirah is studying to receive her PhD in English at Howard University and is from Philadelphia. Alli and Sarah both work for non profit organizations in the Washington, DC area. Alli is from Arlington Heights, IL and attended the University of Iowa before starting work as the Deputy Coalitions Manager for the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation where she works with HWCF’s Associate Members to bring the free Together Counts™ resources to their programs. Sarah is originally from Kentucky and prior to moving to Washington DC, taught English in Taiwan as a Fulbright Scholar.
For more fun ways to invest in a healthy and active lifestyle, check out these other reads from Together Counts!