Erin Lafferty goes Gold with her troop



courtesy of Erin Lafferty

Erin addressing the group of “helpers”.

The Eagle Scout award in Boy Scouts is familiar to everyone as the height of leadership and personal achievement.  For Girl Scouting, the Gold Award has not had the same attention, even though it is equivalent and, possibly, more difficult to earn.  It was modernized in 2010, making it a personal leadership journey.  Erin Lafferty, class of 2017, has been a Girl Scout for the last 12 years. In the beginning of 2016, Lafferty started and received her Gold Award.

“My favorite part about Girl Scouts is the service. I love being able to help people, especially younger Girl Scouts,” said Lafferty.

Lafferty has been a member of Unified Sports for the last four years. She combined her love for Unified Sports with her love of children and service to come up with her Gold Award project.

Erin wanted to raise awareness and educate the community about the Unified Sports program.

Erin recognized that all other sports are being promoted except for Unified Sports,” said Ms. Lisa Martinez, one of Lafferty’s project advisors.

Lafferty organized and hosted a two-part Unified Sports Awareness event, one occurring in April and the other in May.

The first event was for teen helpers in eighth grade and above to learn about the history of services for people with disabilities. Lafferty organized for a guest speaker from to come and assist in educating the participants.

Lafferty also invited a young man with autism and his mother to speak about the importance of including children with disabilities both in and out of the classroom. There was also an autism simulation that everyone could participate in.

“Erin worked to help make a more inclusive environment for kids with disabilities and helped typical students to be more comfortable with their peers,” said Martinez.

courtesy of Erin Lafferty
The group of “helpers” ready for the second event.

The second event introduced the teen helpers from the previous event with children with disabilities grade five and above. Each helper was paired with a participant and they were “buddies” for the day.

The pairs of buddies traveled through different stations, including a craft, game and ice breaker station, to learn about Unifies Sports.

“Erin did a fabulous job in all areas to ensure a successful event for everyone involved!” said Martinez.

Lafferty intended to have outside activities for the second event, but it rained on the day of her event.

Erin was able to quickly modify the rotation schedule and make on the spot decisions to work with this setback,” said Tara Hiltke, Lafferty’s Girl Scout troop leader.

The gold award is a leadership service project and the highest award that can be earned. It requires at least 80 hours of service and it must be sustainable.

“About 150-200 girls in our council earn their Gold Award each year,” said Ms. Rosa Riley, Teen Program Specialist for the Girl Scout’s Council Nation’s Capital.

Before the Gold Award can be started, a formal project proposal must be submitted to the council. This proposal is a plan of the project that includes a summary, estimated hour log, budget and list of everyone that will be helping during the project.

Erin’s hard work and commitment to this project will have a lasting impact on the Linganore community. She really helped to ‘bridge the gap’!  Thank you, Erin, for all of your hard work.  It is very much appreciated by many!” said Martinez.