When you know you have to put at least 80 hours into a project, with the goal of leaving a lasting impact on your community, it helps to focus on something about which you are very passionate.
For Girl Scout Laurel Darragh, that was running.
“Running is pretty important to me,” said the Davis High senior. “I’m on the (DHS) cross country team and it’s a big part of my life.”
So for her Gold Award project, she decided to create a Healthy Kids Club at César Chávez Elementary School — the same school she attended years ago.
The focus would be on fun ways to stay active and fit, with some healthy food and nutrition lessons thrown in, and, of course, everything would be in Spanish. After much planning and preparation, the class got under way last fall, with about a dozen children meeting after school twice a week for fun and games.
“We did everything out on the field,” Darragh said. “We did a lot of tag games, and games where you had to figure out who the leader was. We also had an Olympics during the last two sessions and I got them little medals.”
Other than baby-sitting, Darragh had no real experience working with a large group of kids, she said.
“They can be pretty wild,” she conceded, “but they were very enthusiastic and that was the best part.”
Before the five-week camp ended, Darragh also had the children sit down and write letters to children in Nicaragua. She planned to deliver the letters during the summer when she would be participating in Amigos de las Americas program.
In the letters, the Chávez students talked about the camp they were attending, who their friends are and what pets they have.
“Then they asked the Nicaraguan kids who their friends were and what pets they had, and it gave the kids in Nicaragua something to answer,” Darragh said. “I sent all the letters to Chávez when I got back.”
She also continued her healthy kids effort in Nicaragua, teaching lessons on eating right and staying active.
It all gave her some insight into what goes into planning activities and programs.
“You don’t see all the details that go into an event sometimes, but they’re there,” she said. “It made me really appreciate all the events I have been to. You think it’s really easy, but it’s not.”
She also learned a lot about working with different organizations.
“Amigos, the schools… to do an event with kids, it’s a lot of paperwork to make sure kids are safe all the time,” Darragh noted. “But it all ran really smoothly.”
That was in no small part thanks to her Girl Scout leader Belinda Martineau, who helped her and encouraged her along the way, Darragh said, and also served as the first aider at the Chávez camp.
Darragh is one of five members in Martineau’s troop who earned or are earning their Gold Awards this year.
— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at [email protected] or 530-747-8051. Follow her on Twitter @ATernusBellamy