GREEN  Girl Scouts of North East Ohio (GSNEO) recently honored 59 Gold Award recipients at the annual celebration at the John S. Knight Center in Akron. Ayda Qureshi, of Uniontown and a graduate of Green High School, was one of the awardees.

The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest award a Girl Scout can earn. The Gold Award project challenges girls to identify an unmet need or core issue in their community, research and investigate it, recruit volunteers and build a team to create a plan to address the issue or need. 

“The Gold Award is a take action award where the girls find something in the community be it locally, nationally or globally, and they develop a sustainable solution with a measurable impact," said GSNEO Manager Fallon Pulley.

She said the scouts have to commit 80 plus hours to the project. They lead a team of volunteers to help them accomplish the project. And, they have to hold fundraisers to fund their projects. Pulley said they can hold fundraisers such as pancake breakfasts, spaghetti dinners and other events. The scouts can start their projects as early as their freshman year in high school.

Nationwide, only 5 percent of eligible Girl Scouts go for the gold. This year’s recipients from Northeast Ohio will join the ranks of generations of young women who are recognized for making a difference, both locally and globally. It’s not only Girl Scouts who understand the value of the Gold Award. Some universities and colleges offer scholarships unique to Gold Award recipients, and girls who enlist in the U.S. armed forces automatically enter the military one rank higher.

2019 Girl Scout Gold Award Recipient Ayda Qureshi, ISNEO Safety

Qureshi has been a Girl Scout for nine years. In addition to the Gold Award, she has earned the Girl Scout Bronze and Silver awards for working with other scouts to sell crafts and to set up a recycling program at her mosque.

Her Gold Award project involved improving the safety at the Sunday School at her mosque, Islamic Society of North East Ohio (ISNEO). She provided first aid kits to every classroom and office in the building and established a fire escape route for each room.

During the semester, she also carried out regular fire drills and lock down drills. She gave presentations and offered basic guidelines for the teachers and administration to follow in the future.

“I went to the Sunday School when I was young and I noticed that it really hadn’t been updated recently,” said Qureshi. “I knew safety was a concern of parents and I wanted to help with those concerns. The teachers love it. The parents and the teachers have given me very positive feedback.”

Qureshi started the project in November/December 2018 and finished in February/March 2019. She didn’t have to raise money for the project because the Sunday School had some money set aside for medical and first aid kits.

In addition to Girl Scouts, Qureshi is involved in extracurriculars. She is a part of several clubs at her school, is a member of the high school band and regularly volunteers at a local hospital and in the community. She is planning to attend the University of Michigan to study biology on a pre-med track.

“I joined the Girl Scouts because I wanted to be involved in the community. We learn so many things in Girl Scouts and we build life skills. I’ve very honored and grateful for opportunity to do something for my community and to give back to the community,” Qureshi said.

Girl Scouts of North East Ohio connects girls to a world of possibilities in a positive and inclusive, girl-led environment. Girls are inspired to discover their passions and empowered to reach their full potential through a proven leadership development program. GSNEO serves 25,000 girls and 11,000 adult volunteer members throughout an 18-county region including Medina, Portage, and Summit counties; Cuyahoga, Geauga, and Lake counties; Carroll, Stark and Tuscarawas counties; Ashtabula, Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties; Erie, Huron, Lorain, Sandusky and Seneca counties.


Photo supplied by Ayda Qureshi