“If We Don’t Do Something, Nobody Else Will.”
What Girl Scouts can teach us about the state of the world.
Just like everything else this year, Girl Scout Troop 12022’s Silver Award project didn’t go as planned. Hailing from Hoboken, New Jersey, three of the troop members—Sienna, Dalia, and Narina (all 13-years-old)—have been involved with Girl Scouts since kindergarten. They had started working with the mayor’s office on a project that informed the public about services offered to the city’s homeless population. But, when Covid-19 hit, they realized they had to shift gears. The homeless community needed masks, and the Cadettes, as Girl Scouts in grades 6-9 are known, decided to organize a drive.
“The homeless community is a very vulnerable community,” says Narina. “And people just assume that it’s their fault that they ended up in that situation, while most of the time it’s not.”
By creating a poster and spreading the word on social media, the Cadettes were able to collect almost 200 masks for Hoboken’s homeless. More importantly, they say, they were able to spread the word about this important issue.
“Even if someone didn’t donate a mask, I think they saw the sign and they acknowledged it, at least,” explains Dalia. “So maybe if they don’t donate a mask this time, maybe next time there are food donations, they remember our sign and think, ‘Hey, maybe I can help out this time.’”
Girl Scouts have always been changemakers (fun fact: 60% of women in Congress are Girl Scouts alums, as is our CEO, Sarah LaFleur!) and, inspired by the organization’s long history of taking action and giving back, M.M.LaFleur is honored to partner with Girl Scouts to encourage women to vote. We’ve created a set of limited-edition patches, inspired by vintage Girl Scout patches, that will remind you—and everyone who sees you—that it is your civic responsibility to vote. We’re also talking to Girl Scouts themselves, because while Sienna, Dalia, and Narina aren’t quite old enough to cast ballots, they certainly have a lot to say about the issues that matter most to their generation, and what we—adults of voting age—can and should be doing to make the world a better place for them. Below, they share their thoughts, and we take a step back and listen.
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How Being Girl Scouts Has Prepared Them For Civic Action…
Dalia: Being a Girl Scout has helped me come into myself and become a leader. It’s also taught me that it’s important to care for the people around you, and it’s important to nurture your relationships and just care for people in general—just have empathy.
Sienna: We’ve been Girl Scouts since kindergarten, so we grew up with all this responsibility on our shoulders. So I feel like that has an impact on how we act today, and our opinions, and how we respond to things.
Narina: We’ve always been doing these small things that made a small difference in our community. Now that I look back on it, all those little things we did, all those people we helped, together they make an extraordinary impact. Those small steps took us on a million different journeys, each time learning something new and helping somebody new.
How They Feel About Their Civic Responsibility...
Narina: It feels extraordinary, knowing that I’m doing something to make somebody else’s life better—it’s truly eye opening. But, at the same time, it’s a little bit sad, because it has now become the responsibility of a 13-year-old to make the world a better place. And I’m not saying that we can’t; I’m just saying it’s astonishing that the responsibility of doing so has fallen to us.
Dalia: I’ve heard people say that it’s our world now, but I’m thinking, …’weren’t you guys the ones who were supposed to take care of it in the first place, when it was your world?’
Narina: I turn on the TV and I see all of these…I don’t even have words to describe what I’m seeing. And most of the time, I can’t even watch it, because it just makes me feel so…I can’t really describe how it makes me feel. But it also makes me realize that if I don’t do something, if we don’t do something, then nobody will. So it’s a heavy weight knowing that it’s up to us, but I feel like it’s also very true, because if we don’t do something, nobody else will.
What They Want Older Generations to Know...
Sienna: I want [older generations] to know that we are going to take care of the world. I think we’re going to take care of it really well, because we’re 13 and we’re already working on these projects. So imagine what we’re going to be working on when we’re, I don’t know, 30 or something. Something even bigger—to help fix global warming or something. Because we really care about the world. And we already have all this responsibility thrown onto us when we’re so young. So we’re going to grow up with that and learn with it and from it.
Narina: I would definitely say that there’s only so much that a 13-year-old can do. I would remind [older generations] that they could do so much more, because if they just upheld their civic responsibilities, they too could make the world a better place. What I’m trying to say is yes, we are doing stuff like Sienna said, and imagine what we’re going to do when we’re older, but we have to live in the present, in the now. And right now, if a 13-year-old is doing more than what a 30- or 40-year-old is doing, there’s obviously something wrong with that.
The Most Important Issues Facing Their Generation…
Narina: I think the most important issues facing this generation are the systemic flaws, such as racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, and so much more. And they’re quite literally woven into the fabric of our nation. It’s built into our communities and taught in our classes. These problems cannot be ignored, because they’re systemic, and it cannot be up to us anymore to tell you that. You have to realize it yourself, and you have to do something about it, because like I said before, if you don’t do something about it, who will?
Sienna: Sexism and racism and everything within those categories are all a huge problem in America right now—and in our community, because we grow up being taught racist things. I think it’s sad that we have to do these Black Lives Matter protests and everything. We should just grow up learning to respect everyone.
What They Would Say to Voters This November…
Narina: I would say, remember that you’re voting for your children, your family, and for your nation. I would tell them to remember that though I can’t vote, you can. You can make a difference, because if every single person votes, if every single person realizes that their vote does count, together they can make a real difference. Uphold both your rights and your responsibilities, because right now they go hand in hand.
Dalia: I would say, don’t just think about yourself. Think about all the people that you’re affecting with this decision. Because maybe you think this is good, maybe it’s for what you believe, maybe it matches your ideals, but especially if you’re an older person, just think about all the younger kids.
How They Hope the World Will Change When They Are Old Enough to Vote...
Narina: My dream world would be a world where the systemic flaws of racism and sexism are reduced to almost nothing. My perfect world is somewhere where everybody is accepted for who they are. There’s no need to march for women’s rights. There’s no need to march for equality, because we already have those things.
Dalia: I hope that the world has changed in pretty much every single way. I hope that girls won’t be shamed for wearing clothes that they feel confident in, that people stop using demeaning words for literally everyone. I just hope it changes a lot.
Sienna: I hope we have a more diverse government—that there are views from every point of view, and decisions aren’t just made from people with one perspective. I guess I want most of the things that are happening today to change. Like Narina said, I don’t want to march for women’s rights anymore. I want us to already have rights.