Gold Award Girl Scout spreads love of books to juvenile inmates

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Marriott, ElainaGirl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles is proud to celebrate its largest class of Gold Award Girl Scouts, with 326 awardees.

Three of those girls were selected as National Gold Award Girl Scout nominees. Their projects involved massive time commitments, ingenuity, and the ability to overcome hurdles and inspire others. Each of the three projects instigated a local change with ripple effects on a much larger scale.

We featured our first nominee, Lisa L., in another blog post. Meet our next nominee:

Elaina M.

Project: A Literacy Boost at Juvenile Hall, A Library for the Hope Center at Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall

Summary: Elaina created a library and reading rElaina6oom for Los Angeles’ largest Juvenile Hall, where youth inmates previously had no access to books. The project not only helps promote juvenile literacy, it also aims to lower recidivism rates, as literate juveniles are less likely to be reincarcerated. The process involved collecting more than 1,200 book donations from local libraries, schools, clubs, and businesses. Elaina organized the transformation of an existing prison room into a library and reading space. She also met with teachers and mentors that work with youth inmates at Barry J. Nidorf to ensure the program would be sustainable.

Inspiration: Elaina said reading is her passion, and she knew she wanted to pursue a Gold Award project related to books. She said a psychologist she knew suggested focusing her project on the juvenile hall in Sylmar.ElainaProject4

“The need there was more significant than any other place. It just felt like where it needed to be,” Elaina said. “These are kids who could really benefit from reading.”

Elaina was also able to see photos of art and poetry created by some of the youth inmates. She said she was inspired by their creativity, and her project became even more meaningful.

Most Proud Moment: Elaina faced an unusual obstacle in trying to complete her project—she was not allowed inside the juvenile hall because she was younger than 21. Most of the work, including collecting book donations and building shelving units, was done outside. Elaina said this allowed her to hone problem-solving, communication, leadership, and delegating skills.ElainaProject6

“It’s not for me; it’s for them. I’m proud of it even if I don’t get to go inside and see the space physically,” she said.

Advice for Other Girls: Pursue what inspires you, even if it’s more difficult, she said. Every project will come with challenges, and you have to care deeply about what you’re doing in order to overcome them, she said.

Learn more about the highest honor in Girl Scouting. Family and friends will cheer on our girls at the 2019 Gold Award Ceremony on June 8.

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.

1 comments on “Gold Award Girl Scout spreads love of books to juvenile inmates”

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