Tuesday, May 18, 2010

First Advocacy "Call to Conversation": GSNC Talks with girls about today's critical issues

Girl Scouts of Nassau County had our first Advocacy “Call to Conversation” on May 12th! About 25 girls and parents put themselves on the frontline to help our Council move our Advocacy Agenda forward. It was an enlightening evening as we listened to the girls and heard the concerns of

Girl Scouts of the USA, our national organization, selected GSNC to be an Advocacy Champion Council last year. We are one of about 16 Councils across the country who are part of the 2009 wave of Councils working to give our girls a voice to speak out on issues of importance to them and to empower our girls to be ready to take action on these issues with elected officials and others who can help make changes.

When girls and their parents entered the room there were pictures, newspapers and magazines all around the room highlighting the critical issues facing girls today. Issues like bullying and cyberbullying, some cases that have resulted in suicide. Ads with provocative and very thin girls selling jeans, or something else? Stories about teen pregnancy. Images, images, images, and words and stories. The first order of business was find out the girls’ first reactions to these stories and pictures. We had each of the girls write what they thought on sticky notes to get the conversation started.

We then reviewed the three GSUSA Advocacy Priorities, Relational Aggression (which includes bullying and cyberbullying), Media Images and Disordered Eating. We asked the girls if they had other issues that they wanted to include as their most pressing issues. They girls agreed with the priorities set by GSUSA.

The girls present were most concerned with bullying -- in all forms – and with media images. With that two groups were formed and the parents were sent to another room to discuss their concerns on these issues. An adult facilitated the girl groups for about 20 minutes and then they were left to talk among themselves, while one of the girls served as scribe for each group.

We gathered lots of feedback on the issues that do matter to girls. We heard some heartfelt stories of how social bullying can tear a girl apart and affect all aspects of a girl’s life, including her willingness and ability to perform her best in school and relate to her peers and family. It’s one thing to read these stories in the newspaper, and another to speak with someone who has first-hand knowledge.* And everyone is confronted by media images that are unrealistic, but still leave their mark on girl’s self-esteem …

This was a start. We are just beginning. We’ll be meeting again on June 14th to continue the Conversation and begin to craft our Call to Action. We hope that you will join us. Visit our website for more information, or contact Carole Aksak, 5516-741-2550, ext. 254, askakc@gsnc.org

*Note: In the meantime, we offered girls, and their families, access to GSNC resources to assist them in meeting their most pressing challenges.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Friends: Old and New

“Make new friends and keep the old, one is silver and the other gold …” is a recurring theme in Girl Scout land, and a pretty good motto for any of us who don’t want to go it alone in the world. In March and April we have been out and about keeping the Girl Scouts name in front, and having a great time connecting with some terrific people. Some are proven friends and supporters of the Girl Scout family, and others are great new people that I am anxious to get to know better, for work and for play!

So, Hear! Hear! To making and keeping our friends …

Over the past few weeks Girl Scouts has re-connected with all our Congressional Representatives that are part of Nassau County – Gary Ackerman, Steve Irael, Peter King, and Carolyn McCarthy! We thank each of them and their staff for making time for us.

To Town of Oyster Bay Councilman Anthony Macagnone, and Council Woman Rebecca Alesia – Both of these hardworking elected officials got right to business helping the Girl Scouts make connections, through a grass planting on the beach in Oyster Bay, as part of their Women of Distinction event where our own Council Historian, Carol Gorst, was recognized. Mr. Macagnone came out to support our Walkathon and moving forward we hope to do a Town Meeting in Oyster Bay on the problems of social bullying and cyber-bullying!

We also met with elected Nassau County Legislators David Denenberg, Judy Jacobs, Rose Walker and Diane Yaturo. They continue to support our Girl Scout events and want to be more involved in our work on the critical issues facing girls.

GSNC will be presenting Constance Fratianni Wysota with the 2010 Juliette Low Award of Distinction. Connie is a terrific Girl Scout Leader, mom and supporter of the Girl Scout movement. We’ve known one another for years through Girl Scouts, but it is going to be so much FUN to work together on our Annual Luncheon … She just might just be our new BFF!

Girl Scout volunteer Natalie Borneo invited me to be a guest of her and her company, Marsh USA, at the annual Dress for Success gala in Manhattan! Wow! There were over 1,000 people there and they raised over a million dollars, but the best part for me was sharing the evening with Natalie and new friends … women I hope to get to know better. It was like a girls night out, and for a very good cause!

I’ve also been back to Chicago this month to see my good friend Jeanne and Steve, where I reconnected with their three daughters and got to meet their two new granddaughters. It doesn’t get much better than that!

And the GSNC Girls Go the Distance Walkathon brought over 700 people – Girl Scouts, their families, plus many new friends – to our website to register and show their support for our Healthy Living Programs. The Walkathon Committee was lead by our friends and Board Members, Allison Kasson and Melissa Connolly, who told their friends, and then Bonnie Porzio and Domenique Moran agreed to lead the Walkathon Corporate Committee, and they told their friends … and with the Committees alone we had over 50 Girl Scout friends, old and new! We can’t wait to see how many friends we can find for this event next year.

For May and June, Diane McFarlane, our President and Chief Volunteer Officer, has scheduled time to meet informally with each of our candidates for the Board of Directors and Council Nominating Committee. And we will be seeing so many of our Girl Scout family at the Annual Meeting on May 24, and at literally a dozen or more Association and Community events!

We hope that you will tell all of your friends about the fun you have with your other friends and see all the connections that you can make.