Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Nationwide Study Finds Teenage Girls Have Mixed Feelings about the Fashion Industry

The increased scrutiny of the fashion industry and its use of ultrathin models isn't without validation, as nearly 9 in 10 American teenage girls say that the fashion industry is at least partially responsible for "girls' obsession with being skinny," according to Beauty Redefined, a national survey released today by the Girl Scouts of the USA.

The nationwide survey, which included more than 1,000 girls ages 13 to 17, finds many girls consider the body image sold by the fashion industry unrealistic, creating an unattainable model of beauty. Nearly 90 percent of those surveyed say the fashion industry (89 percent) and/or the media (88 percent) place a lot of pressure on them to be thin. However, despite the criticism of this industry, three out of four girls say that fashion is "really important" to them.

A substantial majority of those surveyed say they would prefer that the fashion industry project more "real" images. Eighty-one percent of teen girls say they would prefer to see natural photos of models rather than digitally altered and enhanced images. Seventy-five percent say they would be more likely to buy clothes they see on real-size models than on women who are super skinny.

In addition to celebrities and fashion models, the study also showed that peers (82 percent), friends (81 percent), and parents (65%), are strong influences in how teenage girls feel about their bodies. Girl Scouts of the USA, who partner with the Dove® Self-Esteem Fund to offer self-esteem programming for girls nationwide, will be focusing their core leadership program to address the issue through its uniquely ME! program.

Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama is using the uniquely Me! program to reach out to the Hispanic population. This program combats many of the issues facing Hispanic pre-adolescent and adolescent aged girls. The core curriculum, which integrates the latest research from the Girl Scout Research Institute, consists of age appropriate booklets with information and exercises about recognizing one’s strengths and best attributes, identifying healthy media images, handling peer pressure, healthy eating habits, hygiene, general wellness, exercise and identifying core values and personal interests. The overall goal of uniquely ME! is to foster the growth of self-esteem within the realms of the participant’s intellectual, physical, psychological, social and mental development. The uniquely! Me program is set to kick-off in the Fall.

"The fashion industry remains a powerful influence on girls and the way they view themselves and their bodies," said Trish Coghlan, CEO of the Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama. "There is little question that teenage girls take cues about how they should look from models they see in fashion magazines and on TV and it is something that they struggle to reconcile with when they look at themselves in the mirror."

The Girl Scout survey comes amid continuing controversy over super thin models, so-called "size zeros." Critics say the models are dangerously underweight and have charged that the fashion industry's preference for waif-like women has led to models engaging in obsessive dieting and extreme weight loss, as well as set a poor example for teenage girls. Fashion shows in Madrid, Milan and elsewhere now ban models below a certain body-mass index.

The health implications of the preoccupation with super thinness are serious. Nearly one in three girls say they have starved themselves or refused to eat in an effort to lose weight. In addition, 42 percent report knowing someone their age who has forced themselves to throw up after eating, while more than a third (37 percent) say they know someone their age who has been diagnosed with an eating disorder.

The survey, conducted by the youth research firm Tru, also found most teenagers consider weight loss measures—even some of the more extreme— acceptable. Twenty-five percent say it's acceptable for girls their age to take appetite suppressants and/or weight-loss pills, and nearly one in five consider plastic surgery and/or weight-loss surgery acceptable.

This study has resulted in Girl Scouts nationwide taking action by introducing H.R. 4925, the Healthy Media Images for Youth Act. This bill supports media literacy programs and youth empowerment groups, facilitates research on how images of women and girls impact youth, and establishes a National Taskforce on Women and Girls in the Media to develop voluntary standards that promote healthy, balanced, and positive images of girls and women.

For more information on the study, please contact Hilary Perry at hperry@girlscoutsnca.org or call 800-734-4541 x103 or visit www.girlscoutsnca.org/research.php.

Monday, March 29, 2010

GSNCA Recognize 2010 West Alabama Women of Distinction Nominees

The Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama will recognize ten outstanding women at their annual West Alabama Women of Distinction Luncheon, Thursday, April 8, 2010, at the Indian Hills Country Club. This Luncheon recognizes women in Marion, Lamar, Fayette, Pickens, Tuscaloosa, Sumter, Greene, Marengo, Hale, Perry and Bibb counties.

The Women of Distinction program pays tribute to women who have made special contributions to their community through civic, academic or professional involvement. Of the ten women, four will be chosen as winners in different categories of Career Accomplishments, Community Contributions, Outstanding Educator and Lifetime Achievement. In addition, one woman will be awarded this year’s Karen LaMoreaux Bryan Environmental Award. The winners will be announced at the Luncheon.

This year’s Women of Distinction nominees are:

· Debbie Bond of Northport, Executive Director, Alabama Blues Project

· Vickie G. Brown of Brent, Director of Student Services, Tuscaloosa City Schools

· Teresa Costanzo of Tuscaloosa, Executive Director, East Tuscaloosa Family Resource Center

· Molly Donlon of Tuscaloosa, Real Estate Consultant and Community Development, Family Restaurant, Winzell’s Oyester House

· Dr. Julia A. Hartman of Tuscaloosa, Coordinator of Arts and Science Instructional Development, University of Alabama

· Vicki Kerr of Tuscaloosa, Executive Director, Caring Days Adult Day Care

· Dorothy Richardson of Tuscaloosa, Assistant Superintendent, Tuscaloosa City Schools

· Melissa Russell of Moundville, President/CEO/Marketing Director, Business Savvy Women’s Group

· Gail Read Windham of Tuscaloosa, Former Owner (retired), Little Things

· Dr. Anne Witt of Northport, Adjunct Professor of Music Education, University of Alabama

Chairing the Luncheon are Committee members Nancy Lambert-Brown and Jean Caldwell. Other Committee members include Avery Brown, Bunny Cox, Lois George, Pat Guin, Elizabeth Hamner, Sandra Jemison and Jane Searcy. Edie Hand of the Edie Hand Foundation and the CEO of Hand ‘N Hand Advertising, Inc. will serve as the Keynote Speaker. She is the best-selling author of over 20 books. Mrs. Hand recently co-authored Women of True Grit: Intimate, Informative, Inspirational, a book compiling 40 first-hand stories from extraordinary women of wide-ranging backgrounds and professions.

Proceeds from the West Alabama Women of Distinction Luncheon provide direct support to Girl Scouts in North-Central Alabama, which serves more than 19,000 girls in 36 counties. Sponsors include Alabama Power Company and Mercedes-Benz U.S. Many other local companies and individuals have generously sponsored additional corporate tables. For more information on sponsorships, please contact Julie Carter at 800-734-4541 ext. 134 or visit www.girlscoutsnca.org/wod-tuscaloosa.php. Tickets to the Luncheon cost $40 for general admission and $25 for Girl Scout members.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Having Fun While Helping Others!

On March 6, Whispering Pines Service Unit in Jasper celebrated Girl Scouts' 98th Birthday with a swimming party at the Natatorium in Memorial Park. Girls decorated cupcakes (and ate their creations!) and enjoyed swimming in the indoor heated pool. As a service project, the Natatorium asked the girls to bring new or gently used swimming suits to help provide for local childrens groups who are unable purchase proper swimwear. Special thanks to Donna Burnett and the girls of Troop 357 for hosting this event.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cookies for Troops Campaign Hits Home for Girl Scout Cadette

Girl Scout Cadette, Claire knows the price of freedom. Her father is in the Army and has sympathy for all members of the military and their families. During Girl Scout cookie season, all Claire wanted to do was raise donations for cookies to send overseas to service men and women. “I wanted to thank our soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan by sending them a taste of home,” she said.

Claire thought of the idea to send cookies overseas last year and sent a few cases to a family member who was currently deployed to Iraq. Her goal this year was to raise enough money to send 200 boxes of cookies to Iraq and Afghanistan. Thanks to the generosity of many family members, friends and patriotic people; she was able to send 732 boxes overseas to our service men and women. Claire has had an immediate family member either on active duty, retired or veteran from all five branches of service and from every war dating back to World War II.

“With every single box of cookies sent, I am honoring my military family, the men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and saying a huge ‘THANK YOU’ to our Vietnam veterans who will forever have a very special place in my heart,” Claire said.

Outside of Girl Scouts, Claire loves to spend time with her family and friends. She also is very involved in sports such as swimming, volleyball and lacrosse. Claire believes she lives in the greatest country in the world. She is honored and humbled to be protected by our armed forces.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Girl Scouts Recognize 2010 East Alabama Women of Distinction Honorees

The Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama will recognize nine outstanding women at their first East Alabama Women of Distinction Luncheon, Thursday, April 1, 2010, at Jacksonville State University Cole Coliseum. This Luncheon recognizes women in St. Clair, Talladega, Etowah, Calhoun, Cherokee, Cleburne, Clay and Randolph counties

The Women of Distinction program pays tribute to women who have made special contributions to their community through civic, academic or professional involvement. This year the Honorees are being named prior to the Luncheon.

This year’s Women of Distinction Honorees are Marie Akin, Senior Vice President, Exchange Bank of America; Betty Carr, Civic Leader; Tina Gregerson, Owner and CEO, Personnel Staffing, Inc.; Joyce Hughes, Medical Staff Credentialing Coordinator, HealthSouth; Christie King-Ray, President, C King Benefits Auction; Carol Pappas, Former Editor and Publisher (retired), The Daily Home; Dr. Valerie A. Richardson, Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Student Services, Garden State Community College; and Jean F. Stanko, Nurse Practitioner, Anniston Family Practice.

In addition Josephine Ayers, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Long Leaf Magazine, will receive the 2010 Frances E. Couch Award at the Luncheon.

The Luncheon emcee will be Julia Segars, a committee member and Gail Collins, a New York Times Columnist, will be the Luncheon speaker. Also, the Alabama Ballet will perform a vignette.

Chairing the Luncheon are Julia Segars and Juliette Doster. Committee members include Marie Akin, Carole Barnett, Anna Berry, Greg Brown, Gina Byars, Annette Cox, Margaret Davenport, Dr. Virginia Gauld, Marcy Gregerson, Patty Hobbs, Diane Kay, Patty King, Melissa McDonald, Betty McWhorter, Bill Meehan, Anna-Marie Moorer, Emily Raley, Jeanne Rasco, Chris Waddle, Melody Warren, Denise Webb and Brenda Wyatt.

Proceeds from the East Alabama Women of Distinction Luncheon provided direct support to Girl Scouts in North-Central Alabama, which serves more than 19,000 girls in 36 counties. Sponsors for the Luncheon include Aerospace Coatings, Alabama Power Company, Anniston Regional Medical Center, Balch & Bingham, Calhoun County Commission, Riverview Regional Medical Center, Stringfellow Memorial Hospital, Sunny King Automotive and Webb Home. Tickets to the Luncheon cost $50 for general admission and $35 for Girl Scout members. For more information please contact Julie Carter at 800-734-4541 x134 or visit www.girlscoutsnca.org/wod-eastal.php.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Project to Solve the Problem with Illiteracy Earns Gold Award

Sabrina responded to a call for help in her community with her Gold Award project—the problem of illiteracy. Working in conjunction with the Alabama Literacy Council, the Children’s Literacy Guild of Alabama and the Birmingham Junior League, over 30,000 books from the Birmingham area were collected to combat illiteracy. Sabrina served as the resource person for the Oak Mountain community and raised a total of 2,650 books to contribute to the book drive. She accomplished this by promoting her project through e-newsletters and posters at schools, and by setting up collection bins for donations. She coordinated a team of friends and family to gather, sort and distribute the books. “This project taught me that I can perform under pressure, not to procrastinate, and to be more proactive to anticipate ‘surprises’ that may arise with any given task,” said Sabrina.

Sabrina currently attends Oak Mountain High School as a junior and is the daughter of Bob and Priscilla of Indian Springs.

Birmingham Girl Earns Gold Award by Encouraging Healthy Living for Young Children and her Community

The purpose of Rachel’s Gold Award project was to instill the importance of healthy eating and exercise into the lives of young children and increase awareness in the community. She presented a health fair for children and their parents with a dietician who spoke about healthy eating, introduced them to the food pyramid and shared how to prepare a healthy meal. In addition, Rachel recruited fitness and dance instructors to conduct fun activities for the children to illustrate how exercising and staying active helps the mind, body and soul. She also created informational brochures to hand out to the parents with strategies on how to improve their family’s health. While completing her project, Rachel learned that she was a true leader—it just takes a little time, hard work and focus.

She is the daughter of Lemon and Sylvia of Birmingham and is currently a freshman at the University of North Alabama.

Painting towards the Gold: Birmingham Girl Earns Gold Award with the Power of Creativity

Kelly recently earned her Gold Award by facilitating painting classes for cancer patients and their families who stayed at the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge in Birmingham. The goal of her project was to use the patients’ artwork to create greeting cards for the American Cancer Society as a personal way to thank donors, sponsors and volunteers. Another objective of the weekly painting sessions was to provide the patients with a fun and relaxing activity at an otherwise stressful time in their lives. Kelly solicited a local art supply store and printer to get painting supplies and printing services donated. The project was so successful that Hope Lodge plans to continue it for years to come. Kelly was grateful for the opportunity to make a difference in the patients’ lives. “In spite of the pain and hardship of cancer,” she said, “they were still thankful for what they did have and enjoyed the experience we provided.”

Kelly is a senior at Oak Mountain High School and the daughter of Patrick and Peggy in Birmingham.

Mentoring Youth to Stay Involved in Church for Gold Award Project

For her Gold Award, Emily developed a mentoring program for her church youth group. The goal of her project was to increase the declining numbers of sixth-graders in the classes and enhance their spiritual journey. She recruited high school students as mentors to share in the lesson-planning and create a fun atmosphere for the youth. By encouraging the younger students to stay involved, Emily saw her project succeed when a number of youth she mentored the previous year decided to stay on with the group. “Every time I created a lesson,” said Emily, “I learned something new about myself and how I could improve the lives of the youth.” As a result of her project, she also gained the leadership skills necessary to be more selective when choosing the mentors.

Emily is the daughter of Mark and Mary Beth of Hoover and a junior at Hoover High School.

Indian Springs Girl Earns Gold Ward by reaching out to Teenage Girls

For her Gold Award project, Emily wanted to reach out to teenage girls on the subject of purity of mind, body and soul, as well share an abstinence message. Her opportunity began during a two-week mission trip to Big Timber, Montana, where over 50 children, ages 6 to 19, from a nearby reservation attended camp at the Four Winds Ministry Center. While teaching such a difficult subject , she was able to relate to the girls by sharing some of her own experiences and struggles as a teenager. Emily soon realized her project was even bigger than she imagined when she saw that the majority of the children were lacking in the most basic of personal hygiene items. Knowing how simple, good hygiene habits can impact one’s self-respect and confidence, she purchased additional bags of personal supplies for the campers. Emily’s project taught her flexibility and leadership skills. “I learned how to lead in a new way,” she stated, “by interacting with others more positively without putting them down.”

Emily is a junior at Oak Mountain High school and wants to pursue a career in engineering. Her parents are Charlie and Kelly of Indian Springs.

Making a Difference in a Community through Gold Award Project

Carli wanted to make a difference in her community through her Gold Award project by reaching out to teenage youth groups in her church. The purpose of BUILD, which stands for Being United in Living Discipleship, was to increase participation in the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) by encouraging high-schoolers to come to her church for weekly meetings and outreach programs. She created a video with two other youth group members and used social media venues such as YouTube and Facebook to promote the project and reach her target audience. Because of her efforts, youth attendance at CYO retreats, meetings and outreach events more than doubled, resulting in increased benefits to the community as well. “I learned that reaching out to those in my community was very rewarding and not as difficult as I thought it would be,” Carli stated.

Carli is a junior at Oak Mountain High School and the daughter of Keith and Leslie of Birmingham.

Gold Award Earned by Encouraging Children to Read

Cameron believes a child’s early school experiences help shape their attitude toward learning, which impacts their desire to pursue an education. As a result, her Gold Award project focused on rebuilding a reading center for a first grade class at Oakman Elementary School in Walker County after it was devastated by a tornado. Cameron developed a plan to reach her goal by soliciting help from the community to donate new reading materials and supplies, and collected almost 1,000 books in a local book drive. When she delivered many of the new items to the reading center, she said, “The smiles and excitement at the school spoke more than words. This project taught me about my strengths and weaknesses as a leader and as a person.”

Cameron is the daughter of Dale and Rita of Hoover and is a senior at Hoover High School.

Birmingham Girl Earns Gold Award through "Hearts for Hope" Project

Inspired by her grandmother’s experience as a cancer survivor, Bria’s Gold Award project was created to provide lunches at no cost to cancer patients receiving chemotherapy treatments and to educate them about their special nutritional needs. She spent hours researching common chemotherapy side effects, as well as eating tips, menus and recipes for patients, which she compiled into binders with the help of volunteers to share with the patients. To help fund her project, Bria composed donation letters for community organizations and churches, and received such an astounding response, she had to open a Hearts of Hope bank account. This past fall, Bria and her team served four luncheons, with 50 patients at each one, at the Kirklin Clinic’s infusion therapy unit. “My communication skills were key to this project,” said Bria, “not only when I had to present the idea to the clinic, but also in talking with the patients.” The project was such a success, that the director of the clinic has agreed to seek funds to keep it going.

Bria is a senior at Jefferson County International Baccalaureate School and plans to attend Belmont University. Her parents are Melvin and Kenneth of Birmingham.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Girl Scouts Recognize 2010 North Alabama Women of Distinction Nominees

The Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama will recognize eleven outstanding women at their annual North Alabama Women of Distinction Luncheon, Friday, March 26, 2010 at the UAH at the University Center Exhibit Hall. The Luncheon recognizes women in Winston, Cullman, Marshall, DeKalb, Franklin, Lawrence, Morgan, Colbert, Lauderdale, Limestone, Madison and Jackson counties.

The Women of Distinction program pays tribute to women who have made special contributions to their community through civic, academic or professional involvement. Of the eleven women, four will be chosen as winners in different categories of Career Accomplishments, Community Contributions, Outstanding Educator and Lifetime Achievement. The winners will be announced at the Luncheon.

This year's Women of Distinction nominees are: Josie Leigh Craig, Civic Leader; Beth Wheeler Dean, Director, Guntersville Public Library; Dr. Jan Irons Harris, Superintendent, Cullman City Schools; Debra Jenkins, Volunteer Executive Director, Merrimack Hall Performing Arts Center; Debbie M. Overcash, Civic Leader; Janet Bransford Sage, Victim Coordinator, Crisis Services of North Alabama; Geraldine Mills Schaffer, Owner, Geriann's Designs; Ameilia McDonald Summerville, Civic Leader; Jean Wessel Templeton, Retired, Wesfam, Inc.; Elizabeth M. Wise, Retired Director, Business Management for the PEO, Tactical Missiles, U.S. Army; Julie Ann McKinney Young, Senior Software Engineer Specialist, Lockheed Martin Company.

Liz Hurley, news anchor of WAFF 48 News, will emcee the event. The Luncheon speaker is Lisa D. Williams, co-founder and former president of 3D Research Corporation.

Chairing the Luncheon is Dawn Stanley. Committee members include Sally Barnett, Candy Burnett, Marion Cox, Kay Eastin, Patricia Hartley, Vicky Kirby, Jennie Robinson, Lisa Washington, Chana Johnson, Janet Kincherlow-Martin, Jesslyn Reeves, Judy Rylas and Mabry Miller.

Proceeds from the North Alabama Women of Distinction Luncheon provide direct support to Girl Scouts in North-Central Alabama, which serves more than 19,000 girls in 36 counties. Sponsors for the Luncheon include The University of Alabama at Huntsville, The Huntsville Times and Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc. For more information on sponsorships, please contact Julie Carter at 800-734-4541 x134 or visit our Web site. Tickets to the Luncheon cost $40 for general admission and $25 for Girl Scout Members.

Monday, March 8, 2010

GSNCA Introduces Inaugural Girl Congress

The first GSNCA Girl Congress will take place on Saturday May 15, 2010 from 9:30 AM-11:30 AM (before the Annual Council Meeting) at the Alabama Power Building in Birmingham. Girls, grades 9th through 12th grade, are invited to attend. Lunch will be provided. The GSNCA Girl Congress will focus on issues older girls are interested in within our Council. If you are interested in participating, RSVP to Rhonda Lambert rlambert@girlscoutsnca.org no later than May 10, 2010. If you are interested in participating in future meetings, please also notify Rhonda.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Girl Scout Project Earns Regional Recognition

Cadette Girl Scout Shelby Travis of Troop 312 in Madison recently earned her Plant Interest Project Award by using the entry as her 6th grade science project. She tested the results of planting the same plants in soil and hydroponically and see which grew better.

Shelby’s Girl Scout project won the Horizon Elementary School Science Fair and continued on to the North Alabama Regional Science and Engineering Fair (NARSEF). At NARSEF she placed 4th out of 12 entries for grades 6-8.

Interest Project Awards are earned by Girl Scouts ages 11-17. These earned awards are recognized symbols of achievement and excellence.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

GSNCA CEO Celebrates Read Across America Day

GSNCA CEO Trish Coghlan had the pleasure of reading to Ms. Avery's 2nd Grade class at Faucett-Vestavia Elementary School this week in honor of National Read Across America Day. The students enjoyed hearing her read The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. We thank Ms. Avery's class for the opportunity to encourage reading across Alabama!