Shanley drives for Gold Award


Photo submitted by Johanna Teegarden

Juniors Emily Shanley and Johanna Teegarden smile big with other Girl Scouts for their leader. Teegarden and Shanley have been in Girl Scouts together since first grade.

By Natalie Williams, Stillwater Area High School

As citizens pass through the hospital, they may notice changes in the availability of media sources such as books and board games.

While it may seem like Girl Scouts is fun and games, hard work and determination is necessary. Junior Emily Shanley is a perfect example of this work ethic. From a young age, Shanley decided something needed to be done about the lack of activities in the psychiatric portion of local hospitals.

While explaining the roots of this passion, Shanley said, “My grandma was in the hospital a lot, and she didn’t really have any books and they didn’t have a library at her hospital… so I figured this would really help people.”

Where it all began

Shanley began Girl Scouts around first grade. “I really wanted to join because my friend Johanna was in it, and she really liked it and her mom was the leader. She told me it would really help me grow in some areas,” Shanley explained.

Girl Scout and junior Johanna Teegarden has been friends with Shanley since before she started Girl Scouts. Since then, their friendship has only grown.

“She’s so kind and she works so hard with everything does,” Teegarden added.

Shanley’s friend was right, Shanley certainly has grown. According to troop leader Angela Heart, Shanley has grown tremendously over the years.

“It’s really fun to see how the girls have grown over the years into wonderful people each with their own remarkable talents and traits,” Heart explained.

This project is how Shanley will accomplish her Gold award, a prestigious award Girl Scouts attempt to achieve. According to Heart, the goal of the Gold Award is for, “each Girl Scout is to work independently of the Girl Scout leaders and her parents. All the work [Shanley] has put in to her project is through a mentor she has chosen outside of Girl Scouts and all the work she has done is through her own initiative and hard work.”

The Gold Award project

While hauling books back and forth from the hospital for her grandma, Shanley wondered how other patients got books or games. Imagine spending hours without end in a room with nothing to read and no games to play. To Shanley, this problem needed to be fixed.

“I wanted to get some libraries or game spaces for mental health promoting areas at some hospitals that don’t have that,” Shanley explained. “I’m going to try and gather donations from other people with old games and old books they don’t like and specialize them for hospitals and some shelters that don’t have them.”

Shanley has put in over 80 hours of service towards this project. This is no easy task, even for the best Girl Scouts. However, the thought of people not as fortunate as her grandma, who had family to bring her entertainment, keeps Shanley going.

With her time spent in hospitals, Shanley has developed a new passion for the medical field.

When asked what she wanted to be when she graduated, she said, “I really want to become a registered nurse.”

“Oh, I can definitely picture Emily as a nurse,” Teegarden added.

However, when talking about possible careers for Shanley, Heart said, “There isn’t any one career that stands out. By creating a project from start to finish, you learn how to communicate with people in the community, figure out a plan to accomplish your goal, come up with a budget for that plan and then figure out how to make it happen and to make is sustainable.  Those are all traits and accomplishments any employer would love to see or that she could use for her own business. What she’s doing now for her project will help her for any future endeavor or career.” To Heart, Shanley would be perfect for any job after this enormous project.

“Thinking things through from start to finish and doing things that may not always be in your comfort zone builds a lot of self-confidence, courage and determination,” Heart explained. This is a major take away not only for Shanley, but readers as well.

Through first hand experience, Shanley realized something had to be done about the lack of literary resources and activities throughout the mental health promoting areas. She decided that problem would be the perfect area to focus her Gold Award on. The fire behind this burning passion of hers is her grandma. Through her hard work and persistence, Shanley hopes to create a healthier environment for hospital patients.

“A healthy mind helps get a healthy body,” Shanley added.

This story was originally published on The Pony Express on January 26, 2020.