2012 is officially the “Year of the Girl.”
Girl scouts, parents and local officials gathered at the City of Union Municipal Building on Saturday morning for the reading of an official proclamation to applaud the Girl Scouts of the United States of America for 100 years of leadership and expertise as the voice for and of girls and to declare 2012 the “Year of the Girl.”
Every mayor from Union County — Harold Thompson of the City of Union, Mary Ferguson-Glenn of Carlisle, Ailene Ashe of Lockhart and Ernest Moore of Jonesville — was present for the special event in celebration of Girl Scouts of the USA’s centennial year. Four troops — 391, 51, 2691 and 57 — were also represented by parents and scouts Saturday morning, and a girl scout program is also in place at the South Carolina DJJ Upstate Evaluation Center.
Each troop collected 100 items for donation to a preferred group or organization. Recipients included the Salvation Army, local nursing homes and the future Jacob’s Well missions center in Lockhart. Spencer Ledford — one of the founders of Jacob’s Well — called Troop No. 391’s 100-item donation the center’s seed donation while mentioning that lots of progress has been made in renovating the former Hope Hospital into Jacob’s Well.
Kim Petty — volunteer service manager of the Union County service group and troop leader for Troop 391 — said she was pleased with the turnout despite the fact that many of the scouts had other obligations Saturday such as ball games and an Emerge field trip.
Petty also introduced Sara McCutcheon, who serves as the Community Development Manager for Girl Scouts service groups in Union, Laurens and Newberry counties, as well as a service group in the Midlands which includes the St. Andrews/Lexington/Richland District 5/Chapin area.
McCutcheon discussed the nationwide launch of an advocacy initiative known as “ToGetHer There.” The ToGetHer There initiative is dedicated to girls’ leadership issues, with the long-term goal of creating balanced leadership in a single generation.
“This is not just about girl scouts; it’s about girls in general,” McCutcheon said, pointing out the lack of female representation in leadership.
McCutcheon said 61 percent of girls are either deeply ambivalent about leadership or say that it’s not important to them. She also said negative influences abound, including peer pressure to not stand out, unhealthy images in media regarding beauty, a lack of mentors, little support for girls with an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and bullying.
“This cycle of discouragement that begins in grade school goes on to have far-reaching impact on our society,” McCutcheon said. “We can do better for our girls.”
The ToGetHer There pledge encourages others to be leaders and inspire girls by becoming informed about female leadership, speaking up for supportive environments in the community and investing in girls to invest in the future. More information about the ToGetHer There may be found at www.togetherthere.org.
Mayor Harold Thompson offered advice to the girl scouts before reading the official proclamation.
“Girl Scouts of the USA gives girls an opportunity to have wonderful adventures, but most importantly to be leaders,” Thompson said, turning his attention toward the scouts. “Always remember to do your best no matter what the task may be. No one expects you to be perfect, but when you do your best, nothing more can be asked of you.”
The proclamation included information regarding the history of the 100-year-old Girl Scouts of the USA, which began in 1912 when Savannah, GA native Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low gathered 18 girls to provide them the opportunity to develop physically, mentally and spiritually. The object: to help build millions of girls and women of courage, confidence and character who act to make the world a better place.
Through the dedication, time and talent of volunteers of different backgrounds, abilities, and areas of expertise, the Girl Scout Program is brought to more than 154 girls in grades K-12 across Union County. Today, more than 50 million American women are Girl Scout alumnae, 3.2 million girls and adult volunteers are active members and Girl Scouts is the largest member of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, a global movement comprised of more than 10 million girls in 145 countries worldwide.
For more information about Girl Scouts of South Carolina: Mountains to Midlands, visit www.gssc-mm.org.