This year marks the largest class of GSGLA Gold Award Girl Scouts (326 awardees!), three of whom were selected as National Gold Award Girl Scout nominees. Their projects involved massive time commitments, ingenuity, and the ability to speak with authority to elected officials, adult professionals, and peers. Each of the three projects instigated a local change with ripple effects on a global scale.
Meet our first nominee:
Zhuojing (Lisa) L.
Project: International Youth Tobacco Control
Summary: Lisa’s project aims to prevent teenage smoking on a global scale through legislative reform and educational awareness. Her project grew into a nonprofit organization with 200 student members representing countries around the globe, including Canada, China, Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United States. Internationally, 3,000 youths were exposed to the campaign. Lisa testified at the California State Capitol as an advocate for tobacco prevention bills, both of which passed and went on to impact 3.5 million adolescents in California.
Inspiration: Lisa said she was dining out with her family while in China, and some adults at a table near her started smoking. Having grown up in California, where tobacco prevention laws are stricter, Lisa was shocked by the behavior. She said it made her realize how commonplace smoking is in China and many other countries that lack anti-tobacco legislation and education.
“It was then that I decided to transform my original plan of conducting educational activities in China into a global initiative, becoming the founder and president of International Youth Tobacco Control with the mission statement, ‘Every teen deserves a healthy life,’” she said.
Most Proud Moment: During one of the educational activities Lisa hosted overseas, an elementary school student testified that he would never have learned about the harms of tobacco before the activity, that he would never smoke again, and that he would go home and convince his father to quit.
“At that moment, it struck me that I am changing lives,” Lisa said.
Advice for Other Girls: Don’t get overwhelmed by the grand vision; just keep taking small steps toward your goal, Lisa said. Before deciding to devote her Gold Award project to tobacco prevention, she said, she doubted the impact she could make on such a worldwide issue.
“However, I realized that every step opens up a staircase; once you do one thing, you’ll find the next,” she said.
Lisa also advises girls not to be discouraged by others’ lack of faith.
“Reflecting on my journey, I still remember the time when I shared my story in front of my class, and a classmate commented, ‘Nice goal, but an infeasible one.’ I didn’t respond to him, nor did I listen; I just proved him wrong,” she said.
Interested in hearing more about Lisa’s and other Gold Award Girl Scout’s projects while helping even more girls to Go Gold? Check out our exciting Gold Award Gala, also on June 8.