Get Inspired: Highlights From Our Celebration of Today’s Youth

Highlights from The State of Youth Panel Discussion and Fundraiser

If you weren’t able to attend our State of Youth virtual event, you won’t want to miss this recap that covers highlights from our highly anticipated panel. Over 300 supporters joined us for a discussion about youth development, equity, and education in today’s world.

The panel shared insights on how the past year’s many challenges affect our youth, and how we can come together to support their success. They captured our hearts with stories about their own experiences with Girl Scouts of Western Washington.

Panelists included:

Betti Fujikado, Moderater | Co-founder, Copacino+Fujikado 

The Ruiz Family | Three Girl Scouts (Alyssa – 13, Sofia – 10, Zoey – 9) and their mom Lory

Aiko Bethea | Founder, RARE Coaching & Consulting + Senior Director, Brené Brown Research and Education Group Daring Way™ and Dare to Lead Communities™ 

Scott Heinze | Owner, Heinze & Associates, LLC + Former Board President of Tacoma Public Schools (2011-2020) 

Christina Turner | Social Responsibility Manager, Tacoma Public Utilities

Local Girl Scout Stories

Before the panel program, three Girl Scouts told their own stories about what they’ve learned and ways they’ve been active in their communities since joining the Girl Scouts. We believe that if a Girl Scout can shape their story, they can shape the future.

Kira from Seattle has been a Girl Scout for 10+ years and was born in China. A few years ago, she joined the Girl Scouts of Western Washington Global Action Team to learn about leadership and challenges that impact people all over the world. The team’s most recent annual Summit was about diversity, equity, and inclusion. They learned about the diversity of people around the world and then taught middle school Girl Scouts what they learned about race.

“We focused on the importance of treating people equally regardless of their race…another big focus of our lesson was the importance of all being proud of who you are and where you come from.”

Girl Scout Kira

Kira hopes to inspire others to be proud of who they are and to make the world a more equitable place.

Sigourney from Fife has been in Girl Scouts for eight years and shared how her special interest in gardening led her to create an edible and medicinal native plant garden in her community. She enjoys growing her own food to make dishes from scratch and wants to inspire more people to garden.

“There aren’t that many grocery stores in my city. It’s kind of a food desert. And I want to bring more fresh food into my community…I’ve also made the garden accessible to everyone by making it a free garden that anyone can get food from. ”

Girl Scout Sigourney

Hannah, a 10-year-old from Renton, is a third generation Girl Scout and her mom is her troop leader. She loves Girl Scouts because it’s fun and allows her to do amazing things, like going to camp and learning from her friends. During the pandemic, one of her favorite things to do was making face masks for clinics by Valley Medical Hospital.

Adapting in Challenging Times

In an intro from Megan Ferland, CEO of Girl Scouts of Western Washington, she acknowledged that the past year was hard. From the pandemic to the racial injustice and environmental impacts, we all have endured and adapted in completely unforeseen ways. But Girl Scouts is here for our youth, providing supportive troop leaders, peers, and a community of people who care to help them grow and cope with challenges.

“Youth are facing extraordinary times and need Girl Scouts and your support more than they ever have before. Especially as they tell us they are deeply concerned about mental health issues that they themselves and their peers are experiencing—and they’re asking adults to take notice. We’re listening and working to not only create safe spaces for these conversations but also to provide the resources they need to develop confidence and resilience for the long term.”

– Megan Ferland, CEO, Girl Scouts of Western Washington

The Ruiz family of Girl Scouts shared that it’s been a tough year not seeing friends. Lory Ruiz said her daughters are usually social butterflies, but because of the pandemic, they haven’t had that in-person connection. Instead, they have gotten creative in planning their meetings virtually. Girl Scouts has provided a sense of consistency and a place to belong for this military family that has moved around the country.

Scott addressed the current mental and behavioral health of young people and how the pandemic has taken a toll, bringing financial insecurity and lack of routine and certainty. Students are losing prom, plays, athletics, and debate season. Those rites of passage during school years have been taken away, and that’s been challenging for kids. But he says they are resilient, and they will persevere.

“This reinforces the need for us to have authentic relationships. And that’s one of the things that’s so beautiful about the Girl Scouts is that in these times of need they create opportunity for girls to bond with other students and other adults so they feel that sense of connection that’s so important if you want to maintain good mental health and just keep things in perspective.”

– Scott Heinze

Christina talked about some of the lessons she learned as a Girl Scout that she applies to what’s going on today—how to be resilient, authentic, how to move ahead and work together in trying times and adjusting along the way. In Girl Scouts, she learned about trying something, failing and then starting again.

“That’s what we’re having to do right now. We’re working our way through this pandemic, through all the social justice issues and the racial justice issues. But Girl Scouts continues to show that we can continue to break the chain and move forward.”

– Christina Turner

Learning about diversity, equity and inclusion

Aiko Bethea brought up how much representation matters for kids and how important it is for them to see people who are like them and from different cultures. Having just one teacher who looks like them can make a difference in the classroom experience and beyond. She appreciates that Girl Scouts teaches youth social and emotional intelligence and courageous leadership—doing the hard thing even though it’s tough to do and being willing to say the thing that may not be popular. It’s about learning to rise and showing up at times when it’s most difficult.

Lory Ruiz shared an example of this. She saw her daughter’s confidence and courage in action when Alyssa’s teacher used her friend’s pronouns incorrectly in class. Alyssa decided to stand up for her friend and say something to the teacher to use the correct pronouns. Her mom said this courage, confidence, and sense of character was built in Girl Scouts.

Girl Scout Alyssa also shared that she enjoyed participating in activities that speak to diversity, equity, and inclusion. She did a badge program that taught her about autism and down syndrome and how to include those Girl Scouts in activities in the best way possible. She felt educated and informed and learned something new.

Why is Girl Scouts such a valuable place for youth?

Girl Scouts is designed to help youth fulfill their potential to become leaders and change-makers. The panel demonstrated the very positive role that GSWW can play in the state of youth today.

Christina had 13 years of experience as a Girl Scout, and it helped shape the person and leader she is today.

Girl Scouts taught me leadership, self-esteem, PR, public speaking, teamwork, how to work with people who are aren’t like you who are different from you, how to set a goal and reach that goal and surpass it, and how to care for your community, environmentally and socially, human to human.

– Christina Turner

Scott’s daughter is a Girl Scout, and he wants her to be able to pursue anything she wants. Through Girl Scouts, she is exposed to STEM education, successful women in business, in elected office and in their communities. He talks about Girl Scouts as so much more than cookies. The Cookie Program is entrepreneurial and is teaching Girl Scouts skills, and they use those funds from selling cookies to pursue opportunities and unique experiences. Scott also mentioned that the financial literacy programs in partner schools are empowering young people with opportunities and removing barriers.

“It’s a powerful organization to be able to reshape how people envision girls as they transition into young women as they move into their career.”

– Scott Heinze

When Betti asked “Why Girl Scouts,” the Ruiz family gave four reasons why they value Girl Scouts so much:

  1. Provides consistency and a place where they can belong since they move across the country as a military family
  2. Builds courage, confidence and character
  3. Teaches about DEI and access and the importance of that in our society
  4. Provides a creative outlet where Girl Scouts get to express themselves

Aiko is a mom of two boys and sees value of them seeing women in charge, women who are confident and courageous and use their voice.

“When we consider what a 21st Century leader, even a 22nd Century leader, what it requires of themthat degree of social and emotional intelligence, that willingness to say things that others aren’t saying in the room and the willingness to be able to see the world differently. And it seems like Girl Scouts offers all of this…it’s so absolutely important for society and not just the youth who will be a part of Girl Scouts.”

– Aiko Bethea

Why invest in Girl Scouts?

Girl Scouts of Western Washington is working to create an even greater experience and we’re excited for what this year has in store. Now more than ever, community support for potentially life changing programs like Girl Scouts is critical, including that we reach youth in Black, Indigenous and People of Color communities. We cannot do this work alone. But with the help of our sponsors and donors, we can make sure today’s youth can access resources and formative experiences to build the skills crucial to becoming strong leaders who give back to their communities and stand up as courageous advocates for change.

By investing in Girl Scouts, you’re investing in our collective future.

Girl Scout Outcomes
Girl Scouts are more likely than non-Girl Scouts to…

80% vs 51% take an active role in decision-making
60% vs 35% participate in STEM activities
62% vs 42% seek challenges and learn from setbacks
79% vs 37% participate in community service activities

Thank you for championing youth potential through Girl Scouts! We are so grateful for your support. If you couldn’t attend, you can still donate to increase access and sustain Girl Scouts leadership opportunities.

Watch the full program:

Full Program: 15:00 start. 32:00 panel.

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