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Local Girl Scout Wins the Congressional Award Gold Medal
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July 17, 2012
Emily Yankowitz, a Girl Scout Ambassador from the Scarsdale Service Unit and one of two girl members of Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson’s board of directors, was one of a select group of Girl Scouts nationwide who recently received the Congressional Award Gold Medal. The award is a nonpartisan, voluntary and non-competitive recognition presented annually to young Americans, ages 14-23, by the United States Congress. There are three levels in the program -- Bronze, Silver and Gold – and awardees receive a certificate and a medal. Each level involves setting and meeting goals in four program areas: Volunteer Public Service, Personal Development, Physical Fitness, and Expedition/Exploration.
As part of her Girl Scout Gold Award project, Emily collected over 10,000 books in order to establish a library for a local community center. This effort also met the Volunteer Public Service requirement of the Congressional Award. Most of the books went to the Part of the Solution (P.O.T.S.) program located in the Bronx. With her excess books, Emily created a library for Desda's Grate in New Rochelle (a program that helps struggling single women and their children). In February, when traveling with a group from her high school, she delivered even more books to elementary schools in Ghana, as well as to a non-governmental organization known as New Seed International.
As part of the Personal Development aspect, Emily attended writing workshops and has since had 26 poems appear nationwide in such publications as the University of Wisconsin's Straylight Literary Magazine, Campbell Hall's public literary journal Surrounded (which publishes creative writing and art from across the country), Teen Voices, and Creative Kids (where her poem was featured on the back cover). She has also won numerous writing awards including Gold and Silver Keys from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, as well as first place in Greenburgh's 41st annual poetry contest. This year she was one of two Scarsdale High School juniors to win The National Council of Teachers of English's National Achievement Award in Writing.
For the Congressional Award’s Physical Fitness portion, Emily decided to learn spinning, an activity involving intensive workouts on an exercise bike. As a result, after learning the proper techniques, she increased her aerobic capacity.
The Expedition aspect of the award found Emily exploring significant historic sites such as Civil War battlefields. The trip sharpened her planning and mapping skills and made American history come alive for her.
“Overall,” says Emily, “the path to the Congressional Award Gold Medal made me stretch beyond my comfort zone and explore new, exciting interests.”
After the award presentation in June, Emily visited with Congresswoman Nita Lowey.
For more information on the Congressional Award program, visit www.congressionalaward.org.