Thursday, February 4, 2010

GSNCA Focuses on Girl Issues

GSNCA has a long-standing commitment to the well-being of girls and for almost 100 years, Girl Scouts has been engaged in girl’s lives and a resource and expert on their growth and development. To advance our mission of building girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place, and ensuring that all girls have the opportunity to be successful, we advocate for the following girl issues:

· Encouraging healthy living among girls;

· Increasing girls involvement in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM);

· Girls and leadership; and

· Financial literacy.

Encouraging Healthy Living Among Girls

Through our program experience and research, Girl Scouts has a unique understanding of the complex issue of healthy living and what motivates youth – especially girls – to adopt healthy lifestyles. As public officials and community leaders grapple with issues such as childhood obesity and school safety we encourage you to consider a wide range of related and overlooked issues, such as relational aggression and cyber-bullying, healthy media images and eating disorders, that directly affect girls’ health. These issues are informed by Girl Scouts’ own research and extensive programmatic expertise. Recently, Girl Scouts in East Alabama attended In The Pink, a breast cancer awareness workshop, where they learned about proper nutrition, careers in the medical field and recognizing breast cancer symptoms.

With more than 60 healthy living-related badges and a historic emphasis on health in the Girl Scout experience, girls are educated and empowered to take action to strengthen their physical and emotional health and positively impact their communities and the world. Additionally, the Girl Scout Research Institute report, The New Normal? What Girls Say About Healthy Living, tells us that girls believe health combines good nutrition and physical fitness with emotional and social well-being. Girl Scouts can provide valuable perspectives and counsel in shaping policies that address this and other serious children’s issues. Girl Scouts is looking for opportunities to improve how our state promotes the health of young people, especially girls.

Increasing Girls’ Involvement in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

Around 3rd grade, girls begin to lose interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). As they age, the problem only gets worse - the percentage of girls who say they would not study math anymore given the choice increases from 9% to 50% in the years between 4th and 12th grades. As a result, women are vastly underrepresented in STEM fields. With more than 70 badges and patches and a journey program entitled, It’s Your Planet Love It!, focused on STEM-related activities, Girls Scouts are encouraged to explore many possibilities in STEM fields. Our research and programming finds that Girl Scouts can play a significant role in capturing and maintaining girls’ interest in STEM fields and GSNCA is proud to have NASA as a dedicated partner in these activities. Girl Scouts from all over the state have attended robotics activities and rocket propulsion workshops. Too, Girl Scouts in Central Alabama have had the opportunity to attend different programs and camps to learn about water filtration systems, metal works and how to properly build and weight a structure. Through this initiative, we seek to help increase the number of girls and young women pursuing education and careers in STEM, and to ensure that education policies reflect the unique learning styles of girls and include expanded learning opportunities.

Girls and Leadership
For almost a century, Girl Scouts has produced leaders who have excelled in every segment of our American life: culture, politics, civic, business, community, etc. Through the Girl Scout Leadership Experience, girls 5-17 discover themselves and their values, connect with other girls, and take action to make the world a better place. The original research study by the Girl Scouts Research Institute, Change it Up! What Girls Say About Redefining Leadership found that girls aspire to a leadership style focused on personal principles, ethical behavior and the ability to affect social change. Locally, GSNCA develops leadership skills by offering programs such as the Young Women’s Leadership Summit. This state-wide event, hosted by GSNCA and the Alabama Business and Professional Women’s Organization, is open both Girl Scouts and non-members and teaches them interviewing skills, how to market themselves and how to take action in their world from professional women in the community. Girl Scouts is eager to identify opportunities to cultivate and expand girls’ leadership opportunities.

Financial Literacy

The current economic crisis has highlighted the need to improve financial literacy among all Americans. With youth controlling more than $172 billion in spending, and one in three carrying a credit card, we must ensure that all youth – including girls – have the information they need to properly save, spend, budget and invest. Moreover, as women are more likely to earn less, work fewer years and live longer on smaller retirement benefits than men, teaching girls personal finance early is crucial to helping them avoid financial insecurity as they mature. From the Girl Scout Cookie Sale Program – often girls’ first introduction to business planning and entrepreneurship – to innovative programs like Dollars and Sense, CentsAbility and Penny Power, GSNCA has a long history of working with girls to deliver informal financial education and ensure their financial literacy. GSNCA hopes to help develop programs and policies that ensure all girls have solid financial literacy skills and support the role of youth-serving organizations in providing real-world financial literacy experiences for girls.

supporting a thriving non-profit community

GSNCA, working in partnership with our state’s non-profit community, supports public policies that sustain non-profits, recruit and retain volunteers, incentivize charitable giving, facilitate nonprofits abilities to provide background checks, protect nonprofit sales and property tax exemptions and activities that help us achieve our missions.