Shelby Girl Scout earns gold award for support project

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published June 25, 2021

 Elizabeth Mulvaine, an 18-year-old Shelby Township resident and graduate of Utica High School, is one of 13 Girl Scouts in southeastern Michigan to earn the Gold Award this year. The Gold Award is Girl Scouting’s highest honor.

Elizabeth Mulvaine, an 18-year-old Shelby Township resident and graduate of Utica High School, is one of 13 Girl Scouts in southeastern Michigan to earn the Gold Award this year. The Gold Award is Girl Scouting’s highest honor.

Photo provided by Christina Marshall

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Elizabeth Mulvaine, an 18-year-old Shelby Township resident and graduate of Utica High School, was beyond excited when she heard that she was receiving the Girl Scout Gold Award for a project that she planned and put together to help those who feel isolated due to their sibling’s health challenges.

The Gold Award is the Girl Scouts’ highest honor and is presented to Girl Scouts who address a community issue or problem. To earn the award, a Girl Scout is required to spend at least 80 hours researching the problem, making a plan and putting the plan into action. The Gold Award is earned by girls in grades nine through 12.

Mulvaine received her Gold Award June 9. A member of Troop 30523, Mulvaine focused her Gold Award project on the siblings of Type 1 diabetics. She noticed that, in her community, siblings who do not have Type 1 diabetes were not being supported as much or as often as their siblings who have Type 1 diabetes. As a result, siblings who do not have Type 1 diabetes can feel isolated and left out as families deal with the needs of a child who has Type 1 diabetes, which can require around-the-clock monitoring and care.

So for her project, Mulvaine created online sibling support groups via social media sites Facebook and Instagram. Thanks to her project, there is now a place for siblings to feel supported.

“For my Girl Scout Gold Award, I did a support group for siblings of Type 1 diabetics. It’s called ‘T1D Includes Me.’ Because of my project, I was able to speak at the Little Caesars Arena for Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming’ book tour. It might have been two minutes of fame, but it was an amazing once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I was also lucky to be the only girl chosen to speak at the Girl Scout Tough Enough Breakfast, which is an award ceremony for adult women who were never Girl Scouts but act like them in their everyday life, with confidence and leadership. My Gold Award has brought so many people joy and relief knowing that there are more people out there knowing what they are going through. And to me, that’s all I wanted,” Mulvaine said via email.

She said she thought of the idea for her project because her sister has Type 1 diabetes.

“I thought of my idea because, well, my sister is a Type 1 diabetic. She was diagnosed five years ago. After the first year, the No. 1 priority in my house was my sister. My family didn’t really explain to me what was going on. I heard weird words like insulin and carbs all the time,” she said.

She said the project took her about four years and about 500 hours total.

The project has an Instagram page and a Facebook page called T1D Includes Me.

She said her biggest challenge was COVID-19.

“My No. 1 challenge was everyone’s challenge last year, COVID-19. We originally planned (to) meet up and be able to talk face to face instead of through social media. I had a date and time and many activities to do for us siblings. But just like everything last year, it got canceled.”

She said that being a Girl Scout over the years has taught her many things.

“Being a Girl Scout has helped me raise my voice and stand up with confidence. Earning the Gold Award has taught me that I am a leader and I can lead a crowd if I put my mind to it,” she said.

The manager of council programs for the Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan, Leatrice Thompson, said the Girl Scout Gold Award is the culmination of the Girl Scout leadership experience.

“For GSSEM, on average, we have about 12-25 girls that earn (the) Gold Award,” she said.

Reportedly about 6% of Girl Scouts nationally take on the challenge of earning the Gold Award, spending one to two years working on their projects.

“The Gold Award was introduced in 1916. Over time, the Gold Award has been known by several names over the past 105 years, including Golden Eaglet of Merit, Golden Eaglet … and First Class Award. Since 1980, it has been called the Gold Award,” Thompson said.

She said that when Girl Scouts complete their Gold Award projects, they each do a final report and a presentation.

“This is when girls take a look at their process, and you can see the amount of passion and fulfillment they feel in completing the Gold Award. The pride staff, leaders, mentors and parents have for the girls that earn Gold is phenomenal. You really get to see girls grow and develop so many professional and life skills that they will take with them forever. Girls learn so much about themselves through the Gold Award,” she said.

Recipients of the Gold Scout Gold Award also receive a $500 scholarship to any school of their choosing, along with nationwide recognition. There were a total of 13 girls who earned this award in southeastern Michigan for the 2020-21 membership year.

“We are so excited to honor these phenomenal young women,” Monica Woodson, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan, stated in a press release. “They’ve earned the ultimate Girl Scout award and have shown their community how to be a true leader and a catalyst for growth. We will continue to support them as they transition into adulthood and lead by example.”

For more about southeast Michigan’s 2021 class of Gold Award Girl Scouts, visit gssem.org/honors2021.

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