Four Forsyth Central High School graduates received the highest achievement in Girl Scouting, the Gold Award, on March 6 at the annual Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta Gold Award Ceremony at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre.
Claire Graff, Madeline Gray, Peyton Ledford and Stephanie Tourtillott completed independent projects that influenced, informed and made impacts within the community and globally to achieve the Gold Award rank. Cathy Morse and Lisa Tourtillott, the girls’ troop leaders since elementary school, provided the guidance for these projects.
“What this award says about their character is determination and courage and leadership,” Morse said. “Determination to find a project that is workable, the courage to reach out to the community and make those contacts with strangers or professional adults and ask for help and ask for guidance and coordinate these large-scale efforts and then leadership because they have to then guide others.”
Comparable to the rank of Eagle Scout in Boy Scouts, the Gold Award is achieved by less than 5 percent of all Girl Scouts.
The projects that Girl Scouts must complete to receive the award must make an impact through permanent and sustainable outreach efforts that demonstrate leadership skills and an ability to work with resources within a community.
Claire Graff increased awareness of prescription drug abuse and proper disposal of medications. With the help of the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, Forsyth County Senior Services, local pharmacies, Medical Association of Georgia and Forsyth County Court Appointed Advocates (CASA), Graff educated the community about prescription medication abuse, disposal and security by in-person seminars and by coordinating the distribution of more than 1,600 fliers with prescriptions. Using GoFundMe, she supplied drug lock boxes to high risk families through CASA and hygiene supplies to Forsyth County Mental Health Services.
Madeline Gray led the creation of nextstepsforyou.tk, a website for Georgia teens and women experiencing unexpected pregnancies. Gray provided local points of contact for medical support, counseling, information and planning for these women. She worked with medical professionals at North Atlanta Primary Care on nextstepsforyou.tk, which focuses on young women by connecting them to local resources and giving them guidance for the future. Her website has received about 1,137 visits to date.
Peyton Ledford created an ongoing program for youth groups to educate them about interacting with dementia patients and to provide monthly interactions between Central students and dementia patients at The Oaks at Post Road. She also partnered with the Beta Club at Central, which agreed to take responsibility for future monthly interactions between the students and patients. Ledford organized the initial interactions that connected the students and patients through crafts, gardening and chorus and music performances and allowed youth and elderly to enrich each other’s lives.
Stephanie Tourtillott produced videos of interviews with family members of children with special needs. Tourtillott researched information about special needs children, volunteered at the North Georgia Autism Center and interviewed Jennifer Williams, the director of Brain Balance. The videos demonstrated the impact a special needs child can have on a family and were shared globally through the internet, allowing families with special needs members to receive support and understand that there are others in their situation.
Morse said each of these girls is incredible, intelligent, giving, warm and take-action, and that she has seen them learn how to change the world during their time in her troop.
“The best part has been watching them learn without even knowing that they’re learning,” Morse said. “And overcome their fears without really realizing it – just seeing them truly grow.”