This week, my colleagues and I at Thomson Reuters join our Girl Scout sisters at businesses and organizations throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin for Always a Girl Scout Week. During this week, employers will host events where Girl Scout alumnae are encouraged to wear green or bring a piece of Girl Scout memorabilia to work. We are celebrating our connections to the preeminent leadership development organization for women and preparing for the upcoming Girl Scouts centennial.
For nearly 100 years, Girls Scouts has inspired generations of girls who change the world. With more than 50 million Girl Scout alumnae, it’s no surprise that the vast majority of America’s most accomplished women, including 80 percent of women business owners, two-thirds of women in Congress and virtually every female astronaut who has flown in space, are Girl Scout alumnae.
I learned many of the important skills needed to be successful in life through Girl Scouts. Scouting teaches girls the confidence to take on any challenge they encounter. Girl Scouts reinforced in me the importance of taking responsibility for my own personal development; helped me understand my relationship with the community, and my responsibilities in the community as a citizen. My parents believed that their values would be reinforced through the Girl Scout experience—and they were right!
Today, the Girl Scout mission is more relevant than ever. According to the 2010 Status of Women and Girls report from the Humphrey Institute, girls experience threats to their physical and mental well being at significantly higher rates than boys.
Results from the Girl Scout Research Institute in 2008 show only one in five believes she has what it takes to lead, resulting in educational and life choices that limit opportunities for advancement. We can and must take proactive step to change this perception.
Today, girls lack access to out-of-school time enrichment activities that can help develop their skills, confidence and leadership potential – especially girls from underserved communities. I know there are other programs in our community that make a difference in the lives of your girls. I commend them, but I want to underscore that through participation in Girl Scouting girls gain the skills and capacity to succeed in life and they do make a positive difference in the world!
I participated in Girl Scouts through the Hallie Q. Brown Community Center in St. Paul. I continue to network with many of my former troop members and am still in contact with my troop leader. The benefits of the Girl Scout connection are life-long.
I’ve always hoped that every young girl or every young mother, or father, could hear about the Girl Scout program and understand how it could enrich the life of their daughters and young female relatives and friends. It would be wonderful if every community had people talking about the impact of Girl Scouts. Given all that we know about the challenges, peer pressure and perceptions that girls have about themselves it is imperative that more of us get off the sidelines and share all that we know about the Girl Scouting program. It can be a wonderful experience for girls, everywhere.
Today, I’m still a Girl Scout. The truth of the matter is that once you are a Girl Scout, you are always a Girl Scout. You may not wear the green sash every day, you might not go to a troop meeting, but the basic beliefs—giving back, sharing skills, improving your community, networking, mentoring and helping others in a joyful way—are something you carry with you every day
Once a Girl Scout, Always a Girl Scout. Join me in celebrating the Girl Scout legacy during Always a Girl Scout Week and inspire today’s girls by showing them the leaders they can become.
Sharon Sayles Belton is a Girl Scout alumna and former mayor of Minneapolis. She is currently the Vice President of Community Relations and Government Affairs for Thomson Reuters legal business.