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Welcome to the Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan Blog! 
In this space, we will tell stories about local Girl Scouts, whether that be a super cool event a local troop held, or writing about a topic that affects girls in our council.  We also would love to show off some of our superstar Girl Scouts who are interested in writing and storytelling, so if you are one of these girls and would like to work with the Marketing Team on a blog or be a guest author on our blog, email marketing at marketing@gshom.org for more information!

Mental Health Part 1

January 11th, 2022
Written By: Marketing & Communications Team

Mental Health General Info

Parents know that from the moment their child is born that they have to keep them healthy and take care of their physical health. You learn what signs to look out for when your girl starts to get sick and when it is time to take her to the doctor for some medicine. But what about her mental health? Not as many people learn the proper way to care for someone’s mental health. Mental health is just as important as physical health; if your girl is feeling depressed or anxious, then there is a chance that it could affect her everyday life, just like if she was sick or break a bone.  Girl Scouts knows how important mental health is, especially for young girls.  In order to help girls learn more about mental health, Girl Scouts just released the Mental Health Awareness Patch.

This post is part 1 of 2 blogs that will give you some basic information about mental health, as well as provide resources where you can learn more. These things are important to know for if your girl ever experiences a mental health crisis. Here are some mental health “need-to-knows” in order to take the best care of your girls’ mental health.

1. Having a mental illness is NOT a weakness. Anyone can have a mental illness, while it can be hard to handle at times, this does not make a person weak.

2. Everyone is different. Our brains are all different, so it is okay if she has a different reaction to something than others do. The important thing is to provide support when she is feeling this way.

3. You can help your family member or friend. If you know someone who has a mental illness you can help them through it. As stated above, everyone is different, which means people might need help with different things. In order to know how to best help the person in your life that has a mental illness, ask them.

4. You can fight stigma. There is a stigma, or negative opinion, about mental health that can prevent people from talking about it or seeking help. You can help to break this stigma so that people around you (like your girl) know that it’s okay to talk about mental health and reach out to others when needed. In order to help break the stigma, don’t shy away from mental health topics, and listen when people around start discussing it to show that you can support them if needed.

5. You are not alone. If your girl is struggling with mental health, she may feel alone.  It is important to let her know that she isn’t alone. While it is harder to tell who is struggling with mental health because it is not an injury/wound that you can see, it is more common than you may think. About 1 in 4 people struggle with mental health at some point in their lifetime.

6. There is a lot of information and resources. If your girl is struggling with mental health, scroll to the bottom of the page where there is a list of resources available.

(https://www.nami.org/blogs/nami-blog/may-2015/7-things-to-remember-about-mental-health)

Girl Scouts’ Response

Girl Scouts knows the importance of mental health, especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic. To emphasize how important mental health is in our lives, Girl Scouts just released the Mental Health Awareness Patch. This patch can be earned by all levels in Girl Scouts.

The Mental Health Awareness Patch helps girls to manage their emotions, connect to others, and to find coping skills that work for them.  Through education like this, we can change the perceptions and reduce the stigma of mental illness. Earning this patch is a great way to start a conversation with your girl about mental health. 

Part of the reason that there is a negative stigma when it comes to mental health is because there is a lot of confusion for people about what statements are true and which are false when it comes to mental health.  Here are some examples:

· Myth: You can catch a mental illness from someone else.

· Myth: People living with mental illness are not smart.

· Fact: People with mental illness are more likely to be a victim of a crime than to commit a crime.

· Fact: Mental illness is a medical problem just like diabetes or asthma.

Another part of the Mental Health stigma is the language used when speacking about the topic. There are preffered ways about speaking about Mental Health so that the person being spoken about still feels valued. Some examples of preferred language include saying, “she has a disability” instead of saying, “she is disabled,” or saying, “She has a mental health problem” instead of saying, “she is insane/crazy/emotionally disturbed.” The way that we talk about people affects them and the way that they think of themselves. If you say that someone “is disabled” that is how they will start to define themselves, when that is not the case because someone is more than their disability/mental illness.

(https://ibpf.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Girl-Scout-Packet-Updated-.pdf)

Conclusion

Mental health is just as important as physical health. This means that it is just as important to recognize the signs of your girls’ mental health declining so that you can talk to her about a therapist or psychiatrist.  There is still a stigma around talking about Mental Health that can keep people from seeking the help that they need. It is important to help and reduce that stigma by talking to others about mental health and showing that it isn’t a scary topic so that you and your girl feel confident that they can get help if they need it. Girl Scouts recognizes this and has introduced the Mental Health Awareness Patch as a way for girls and parents to learn more about mental health, as well as use the activity as a stepping stone to talk about the subject.

Resources

These links are resources available to you to learn more about mental health as well as ways to seek help if you or someone you know needs it.                                                                                                                         ·  National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):  https://www.nami.org/home                                                              ·  National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/                                                      ·  State of Michigan mental health resources: https://www.michigan.gov/coronavirus/0,9753,7-406-98178_99557---,00.html?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=staywell22  ·  Resources to find therapists, as well as what insurance they take and if they use sliding scale income for price                                                                  ·  211.org                                                                                        ·  https://www.psychologytoday.com/us

Girl Scout Friendship Lasts a Lifetime

December, 14, 2021
Written By: Marketing & Communications Team

A Big Surprise

On a freezing cold November day in Saginaw, Michigan, one Girl Scout was about to see her troop for the last time before moving out of state.  Sammie, a seventh-grade Cadette, has been a Girl Scout for three years.  She is a part of troop #50824 and November 30th was her last meeting with them. 

Unbeknownst to Sammie, her troop had created a big send-off for her last meeting.  When Sammie arrived, she was surprised with a limo waiting for her that was going to take the whole troop to Red Lobster for dinner!  The girls felt like VIPS when they saw that the limo came with a chauffeur in a suit who would open all of the doors for them.  Her troop had also put together a send-off basket with some of Sammie’s favorite snacks and candies for her to enjoy on the ride.  The entire event was extra special because none of the girls had ever ridden in a limo before, not even the troop leader!  Needless to say, this was not the goodbye that Sammie was expecting, it was so much better!

History of Friendship

Sammie was so surprised that her troop would put together this special sendoff for her!  This type of personal farewell is something that is unique to Girl Scouts.  The Girl Scout mission is to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. Girl Scouts was founded on the beliefs of sisterhood and service.  

A going away event like this shows how much Girl Scouts means to its members.  When asked what her favorite part of Girl Scouts was, one Girl Scout, Christina Yarn, said, “Making new friends and meeting new people.”  The bonds that girls gain from Girl Scouts goes beyond the Girl Scouting activities and far into the future, even when they are no longer in Girl Scouts. Juliette Gordon Low founded Girl Scouts in 1912, and from the beginning she intended for the organization to be teaching girls skills that they might not learn anywhere else.  Low was also focused on friendship, famously saying, “Truly, ours is a circle of friendships, united by our ideals.”  Friendship has been a staple of the organization since its founding and it has not gone away, as shown by Sammie’s going away surprise.

Troop Leader Shandelier Yarn shared that she had many favorite aspects of being a Girl Scout volunteer, but that bonding with the girls was her absolute favorite part.  Similarly, Sammie shared that her favorite part of Girl Scouts was making new friends and doing artistic and creative craft projects.  These answers exemplify why this troop had a wonderful sendoff for one of its members, because they are all friends.  This troop, like most Girl Scouts troops, became close friends over time.  When one of their members of three years was leaving, they only saw it fit to give her an unforgettable goodbye.

Troop 50824

How did this troop get so close?  All Girl Scout troops do programs and activities together.  The Troop Leader shared that one program she is very proud of was the troop “partnering with Dawn of A New Day coffee shop to donate                                                                       Girl Scout Cookies to their free                                                                         Christmas dinner to those in                                                                             need.”

Dawn of a New Day is a local Saginaw coffee shop who saw need in their community and decided to act.  They handed out ham dinner with mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, green beans, bread and butter, pie, and milk, according to a WNEM article who covered the Christmas drive through dinner in 2020.  Troop #50824 did their part to help the community by raising over $1500 to be able to give away over 300 boxes of cookies to be desserts for the Christmas meal.  The troop enjoyed that experience so much that they are making it a yearly tradition to raise money and donate Girl Scout cookies to people in need.  This year they are going to partner with Dawn of A New Day, as well as East Side Soup Kitchen.  So far they have raised about $1800 and have a goal of raising $10,000 by Christmas to be able to donate as many cookies as possible to those in need.  If you would like to help the troop in their cause, visit their Facebook page.

A Fond Farewell Sammie

Troop #50824 is a tight knit group who love to do activities and programs together to help their community.  Everyone is sad to see Sammie go, but they know that they will still be friends even after she moves because they will always have the Girl Scouts to bond over.  Sammie said she isn’t sure if she is going to join Girl Scouts in her new town, but that she will miss the Girl Scouts here and the opportunities that she’s had and the friends that she has made.

2020
March 10, 2020
Marshall Community Foundation prepares girls for transition to middle school

Thanks to a grant from the Marshall Community Foundation, 5th grade girls in the Marshall Public School District will have a new program available to them, focused on easing the transition from elementary to middle school.

Moving from elementary to middle school is a challenging and uncertain time for everyone, but especially for young women. According to one study, girls are more likely than boys of the same age to report feeling anxious around being lost, being bullied, being pressured to engage in risk behaviors, and meeting academic challenges upon entering middle school (Bailey et al. 2015).

In order to address these and other fears, Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan has designed a multi-week curriculum targeted at girls in 5th grade. Over the course of the program, girls will meet with other 5th graders in the district, as well as older girls, to discuss their concerns while building a positive peer support network. The curriculum will address items like self-esteem and body image, cliques, and stress management. This program will run for six weeks beginning in March. The program will conclude with an overnight retreat at Girl Scouts Camp Merrie Woode.

“This grant will allow us to meet a unique need in the Marshall community that many of our Girl Scouts have expressed concern over. Entering middle school is a tough time for girls, with many of them dealing with self-esteem issues, changing friendship dynamics, and a new and uncomfortable environment. We want to help ease these tensions so that girls can live up to their full potential. We are so thankful for the Marshall Community Foundation’s help in making this program a reality,” said Krystal Prince, Membership Specialist for Calhoun County.

Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. Through empowering girl-led programs, girls discover their unique talents and abilities, connect with their peers and their communities, and take action to positively impact the world around them. The Girl Scout program welcomes girls grades K-12 of all races, ethnicities, backgrounds, beliefs, and orientations.

The Marshall Community Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving quality of life in Marshall, and throughout Calhoun County. The Foundation holds permanently endowed funds from a range of donors, and serves as a conduit for special projects and the distribution of grants in support of innovative programs like this one. For more information about the Foundation, visit www.marshallcf.org.

This program is available to all 5th grade girls from Marshall and Albion. By participating, girls will have the benefit of being registered as Girl Scouts. For more information about this project, or to get your girl involved, contact Krystal Prince at (269) 270-4902. 

2019
January 4, 2019

Making Friends

One of the best things about camp is making friends. It's the perfect place to try new things and meet new people.

  • Our camp staffers are trained to help girls build lasting friendships at camp. 
  • When girls arrive, they will participate in “Get to Know You games” to learn names and identify girls with common interests.
  • Camp staff watch closely for girls who may be having a hard time making friends and help them connect with other campers.
  • Girls will have daily opportunities for free time, still supervised by their counselors, where they can engage with other girls in an unstructured setting.

 

2018
November 9, 2018: Memorials and Vigils for Wisconsin Girl Scouts
A Note from GSHOM CEO Jan Barker
November 9, 2018

You may have heard that Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) filed a complaint against Boy Scouts of America (BSA). Litigation is never anyone’s first choice, and we wish it weren’t necessary to take this step. Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan is a locally chartered council of GSUSA, which is the national organization. Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan has taken no local legal action against any other organization. We will continue to direct our resources toward girls and local priorities. All proceeds from product program stay local.

We know that GSUSA remains open to a dialogue with BSA to resolve this issue. I’m aware that many of us, staff and volunteers, might be feeling conflicted by this development—but what GSUSA is doing stems from an unwavering commitment to advocating for our girls, their families and the communities we serve. Protecting our mission and brand is crucial.