As they turn cartwheels and chatter excitedly, it's apparent to anyone watching them that the girls of Girl Scout Troop 40522 are a confident bunch. Whether it's riding a horse for the first time or learning about global energy, these girls are taught from the time they are Daisies to "just go for it."
The troop's leader, Jenny Rippy, says helping them build that self-assurance is part of what being a Girl Scout leader is all about.
"The Girl Scouts' mission is to build courage, confidence and character in these girls," says Rippy, who became a Girl Scout herself in the second grade.
Chris Salley, Program Services Director of Girl Scouts of Western Ohio, says another important part of Girl Scouts is educating these young girls about their communities and the problems within them.
"I work with community partners to help enrich girls' understanding of the world they live in," Salley says. "As program manager, I try to build partnerships with these organizations and help girls see why an issue is important to the community and how to change it."
One such partnership is with The Christ Hospital and the American Heart Association, who both helped create the Go Red Patch Program, a program designed to educate young girls about their hearts and how to keep them healthy. By emphasizing good heart healthy habits early in life, the program activities are able to raise the girls' awareness of heart disease, which is the No. 1 killer in women.
In 2011, The Christ Hospital hosted two educational events at the hospital to earn a Go Red Girl Scout Patch. At the events led by The Christ Hospital, the troops got a firsthand look at the importance of a heart-healthy lifestyle, including education on how the heart works, various exercises that contribute to a healthy heart and ways to incorporate a healthy diet into their lives. At the two events, there were 175 girls in attendance.
Moving forward, The Christ Hospital has launched an online program to reach a much larger audience. Troop leaders can coordinate a number of heart-healthy activities on their own time. After they complete the program, the troop can choose to have their Go Red Girl Scout Patch mailed to them or they can even receive it at a special patch ceremony at The Christ Hospital on April 14.
Salley, who now helps coordinate these programs and activities for the Girl Scouts, stresses the significant impact they can have on young girls.
"Girl Scouts is about giving girls the skills to navigate through difficulties in life and challenges they might face, whether good or bad, and to develop critical thinking," Salley says. "We help them learn to make good decisions "¢ those skills have to start early because they might not get good role models at home, and at some point, they have to make those decisions on their own."