Caydence Pawloski is a 17-year-old junior in high school. The homeschooled student has been a part of the Girl Scouts organization for 13 years. She is currently part of Troop 3986. There are about 12 girls in the group. She has been in the planning process of her Gold Award project for the past six months and has moved to the strategic phase of raising funds followed by construction.
What is the Gold Award?
Pawloski joined Girl Scouts because she thought it would be fun. Through the years she has enjoyed the friendships formed with the girls in her group. She also says that she has “learned a lot” including how to help her community, tie knots, and proper etiquette.
The Gold Award is the highest award a Girl Scout can earn, it’s the equivalent to the Eagle Scout rank in Boy Scouts. This achievement can only be earned at the Ambassador level when girls are in 11th or 12th grade and must be completed as an individual versus a group. Prior to earning this award, a Girl Scout must complete the Silver Award as a Cadette sometime in 6th through 8th grade and a Bronze award that can be acquired as a Junior in 4th or 5th grade. Additionally, two Journeys must also be completed. These are in-depth badges that take several hours of work along with a Take Action project before being received.
Gold Award guidelines state that a project should “make changes in your community” and be sustaining. The project comes with a suggested 80-hour minimum timeframe for research, planning, and completing the project.
Meeting a Community Need
Pawloski has her eyes set on helping the special needs students in the community and plans on putting in a musical sensory garden on the playground at Cherry Creek Elementary School. According to her research, there are 344 special needs students attending Lowell Area Schools. “I talked to a mom telling her my idea and she said that it would be so beneficial to her son who has autism. Things like a musical sensory garden are really useful for their growth,” she says.
Pawloski’s project summary document states, “My goal for the project is to have a musical sensory garden in the playground as a place for special needs children to grow and thrive, meeting their sensory needs, as well as, improving communication skills. The garden will include flowers, musical instruments, and other sensory items.”
Musical sensory gardens add to a child’s development by adding a sensory component. This hands-on approach can further help neurodivergent students communicate with others, understand the world around them, and have a calming atmosphere if they are feeling overwhelmed.
Conversations with individuals at Cherry Creek have continued to move the project forward. “Caydence and I met and she shared her vision with me and we toured the playground and we found a space that would make sense to put the sensory garden,” comments principal Craig Veldman. “I think the project is a great idea and a space for all students that need maybe a little down time or a break.”
Before the construction of the garden can begin Pawloski must raise funds to pay for the project. She is currently collecting cash donations, pop can returnables, and selling homemade blankets to be able to purchase the supplies needed. Her goal is to construct the musical sensory garden over the summer and have it ready in time for meet the teacher night before students return to the building. While the area will be on the playground at Cherry Creek, others in the community are invited to visit and use the area when school is not in session after hours or during breaks.
Anyone wishing to make a monetary donation or pop can donation can email Caydence at [email protected].
Photo courtesy of Caydence Pawloski.