Girl Scout earns Silver Award

Friday, October 31, 2014

By Alexis Hardrick

Girl Scout Cadette Troop #1677

During the spring of 2013, I decided to work on earning my Girl Scout Silver Award. The Silver Award is the highest award that a Girl Scout Cadette can earn. It requires the prerequisite of doing a Girl Scout Journey Award and then doing a minimum of 50 hours of planning and working on a service project of the scout's choice.

After earning the Breathe Journey award, the first thing I had to do was pick a service project to work on. Having a little sister with cystic fibrosis, I chose to do a project on raising cystic fibrosis awareness. The first thing I had to do was learn more myself on the disease.

I learned that cystic fibrosis (CF) is a life-threatening genetic (inherited) disease that primarily affects secretory glands. In people with CF, the defective gene and its protein product cause the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus that clogs the lungs which can lead to life-threatening lung infections and obstructs the pancreas which stops natural enzymes from helping the body break down food and absorb vital nutrients. An estimated 30,000 children and adults in the United States (70,000 worldwide) have CF.

After learning all this, I made an exhibit learning board showing many of the different areas (lungs, liver, pancreas, digestive and reproductive systems) of the body that cystic fibrosis affected and how. I took my learning board with me to several booths around Lewisburg during the summer and fall of 2013. Along with talking about my learning board, I also did a few activities that showed how cystic fibrosis affected a person's lungs. By using straws to blow up balloons, I was able to show how hard it can be for someone with cystic fibrosis to breath. I gave away bubbles with a label for cystic fibrosis awareness on them to represent how simple activities can increase lung function.

During the fall of 2013, with the help of my Girl Scout troop, I hosted a CF Day for other troops in Marshall County, their leaders, and parents. Girl Scout Cadette Shelby Appler and I planned the day around fun activities that would show children from ages 5 to 18 how cystic fibrosis affects the different areas of the body and some of the many things that people have to do maintain a healthy lifestyle. Along with Shelby and I, troop members Morgan, McKenna, and Eliana ran the rotation of activities for the other scouts and adults. Those attending learned how simple exercises; such as singing, playing the horn, and blowing bubbles, can help keep lung function from decreasing, thus keeping someone with CF healthier. They learned the necessity of germ control through a fun activity involving glitter and hand washing. Digestion was explored via a very fun but gross experiment; and those involved learned that because many with CF have malabsorption problems their diet consists of a high-calorie, high-fat content along with enzyme pills used to increase absorption. CF Day was a great success and hopefully inspired others to learn more about this disease.

After doing CF Day, I only needed a few hours to finish up my minimum hours for the Silver Award. Due to school and other activities, I took a break until May 2014. May is National Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month. I decided to go on a more global level and made a graphic for my friends and family to share on Facebook and other social media. On the graphic I put a poem that I made with the help of family members. The following is the poem, I shared with the "I" in the poem being my little sister or others affected by CF:

I look healthy

I know that I do.

But something is broken inside me,

What it is I haven't a clue,

What's easy for you

Is hard for me.

Breathe easy you say

I would love to some day.

Hours of treatments,

Hundreds of pills,

I'll keep fighting

This Cystic Fibrosis, I will.

The only thing left for me to do after sharing my poem/graphic during National Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month was to fill out my paperwork and send it in to the Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee for final approval by Sept. 30 before I moved up to the next Girl Scout level (Senior). My paperwork was sent in mid-August and within a couple weeks I received a letter back saying that I had earned my Silver Award.

I would like to thank the following people: Lewisburg Downtown Alliance and Marshall County Chiropractic for providing booths in which I could share my information, Dr. Denise Werner for being my Project Adviser and signing off on my paperwork, the rest of the members and the leaders of Girl Scout Troop #1677 for helping me with CF Day, and the other Marshall County Girl Scout troops for attending CF Day. Many thanks for making my goal to earn the Girl Scout Silver Award a success!

For more information on Cystic Fibrosis, visit www.cff.org. For more information on Girl Scouts, visit www.gsmidtn.org.