Girl Scouts Focus On Hawai‘i’s Future
Make no mistake, Girl Scouts are seriously pro-mission, and they’ve spelled out their agenda — G=Go getter, I=Innovator, R=Risk taker, L=Leader — to prove it. In fact, if you still think Girl Scouts are all about cook a wee bit behind the times.
Girl Scouts are about the future.
I had a chat with the irrepressible Shari Chang, Girl Scouts of Hawai‘i CEO. She’s a fourth-generation scout, and her enthusiasm flows from her in a torrent of words. She speaks pistol-fast and my poor
“We are the organization creating the female leadership pipeline,” she declares.
Right now, she says, they are focusing on some less-thanstellar news for girls in Hawai‘i. According to the 2017 State of Girls report released by the Girl Scout Research Institute, Hawai‘i girls rank 23rd in the nation when looking at factors such as economic well-being, physical and emotional health, education and extracurricular activities outside of school.
When you break down the Hawai‘i numbers a little more,
• 68 percent of Hawai‘i’s fourth- and eighth-grade girls math.
• 11 percent of girls ages 6-17 have expressed they don’t feel safe in school.
• The rate of girls ages 5-17 living in poverty has almost doubled since 2007.
Chang knows girls in Hawai‘i can and deserve to do better, and the organization is
They’re doubling down on what Chang calls the “four pil
1. STEM — which stands for science, technology, engineering and math. Chang says the Girl Scouts’ national aim is to put 5 million more women in the STEM pipeline.
2. Entrepreneurship and financial literacy. Those kids aren’t just selling you cookies; they’re learning how to be entrepreneurs!
3. The outdoors. They learn team building, and how to take risks in a safe environment. They push themselves to achieve. They learn how to be advocates for the environment.
4. Life skills. Communication, service and supporting the community. Becoming advocates. Taking action.
Those four pillars are supported by 100 years of research-backed program- ming in girl leadership development. It works, Chang says. They have their own research to back it up. When you think about it, it makes sense that girls who learn self worth and leadership early in life get better grades, have more success and more confidence in their future.
In the spirit of this emphasis on service and achievement, the organization’s highest award is also the hardest to get, harder even than the Eagle Scout award for Boy Scouts.
The Girl Scout Gold Award requires girls to “engage in a rigorous process that calls for leadership at the highest level as they tackle issues they feel passionately about.” And it’s not just a one-time project — the project must be sustainable the future.
Chang says one big push they’re making is to expand Girl Scout programs into Title I schools and under-resourced areas. They’ve partnered with the Boys & Girls Clubs and deserves the chance, she says, no matter where they live.
The Girls Scouts are cele- brating their 100th birthday in led and girl- friendly Girl Scouts. We need you now more than ever.
Shari Chang, CEO of Girl Scouts of Hawai‘i, and Troop 536 members pose with pallets of the iconic cookies.