A heart of gold: Girl Scout project helps some of the most vulnerable

Published 11:21 am Thursday, September 29, 2022

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By Mike Barnhardt

Enterprise Record

Call it a learning experience with many obstacles, but worth all of the effort.

Anna Swisher, a Girl Scout in Troop 1265 for 14 years, decided to seek the highest award Girl Scouting offers – the Gold Award. It requires a community project.

Anna, a student at Davidson-Davie Community College, decided to construct a therapeutic garden at The Dragonfly Children’s Advocacy Center in Mocksville.

Simple enough, right?

She learned quickly that bringing an idea into fruition takes time and effort.

The first obstacle was the site. It was overgrown with vines and other groundcovers, trees that were at the end of their lives.

“The first obstacle was how much longer the clearing of the garden area took than I originally thought,” she said. “I had to schedule additional workdays to continue working on clearing the area, and this threw me behind schedule early on.”

It didn’t help that two of her volunteers didn’t pan out, so she had to find others.

Anna said her next obstacle was finding donations of materials. “This was frustrating as I needed to make myself available when they were available.” A student and also an employee, finding that time was difficult. Her employer helped by offering an adjusted work schedule.

“I overcame these obstacles by remaining flexible and continuing to provide communication with my team,” Anna said.  “A few leadership skills I developed throughout my project were project plannign creativity, flexibility, time management, reliability, delegation, and effective communiction.

“My project helped me develop more confidence and improve my face-to-face conversations. For any girl who is going for her Gold Award, my advice is to start earlier than you are planning. Plan for the unforeseen obstacles.”

But knowing that her project can make a positive difference in the life of a child in crisis made it all worthwhile.

In addition to the garden, which includes outdoor tic-tac-toe, other games and a custom bench, Anna made a video on the mistreatment of children that was shared on social media platforms and with local child care centers.

It shows some statistics and local resources for people to contact should they suspect such incidents.

“It is my hope that my video will inspire others on how each community can play a part in stopping child maltreatment.

Anna is the daughter of Allison and Jason Swisher.