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International Mental Health Day: Gold Awards teaching coping mechanisms

By: Gold Award Recipients

Mental health has become a common topic among young and old, alike. According to the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), around 7.4% of children aged 3-17 have diagnosed behavior problems and similarly, the rates are increasing for anxiety and depression diagnosis. Gold Award Girl Scouts have identified these issues in their Central Texas communities and have taken action to provide resources and teach others how to cope with the issues they might be facing. From musical therapy, art projects, and yoga, Central Texas Girl Scouts are providing creative outlets for teens and adults to help them tackle mental health concerns. Below are just a few of their stories.

ClaireHead shot Claire Tinker

Claire has been playing piano for 13 years and finds her passion in the arts, problem-solving, and interpersonal interaction. Troubled by the rising teen suicide rates and seeing her friends fall to the diagnoses of anxiety and depression, Claire decided to take action.

With her project, Claire augmented fearlessness in the face of expression, and emphasized the intrinsic nature of music in our lives to combat violent emotions, create community, and invigorate passion. Claire focused her work within lower socioeconomic communities in the Austin, Texas area, because families facing economic hardship often don’t have time or funds to pursue artistic or passionate expression. She transformed and integrated painted pianos into the hallways of select elementary schools within low-income neighborhoods for public use, funded their musical education programs, and paired passionate students with resources.

Working with local instrument businesses to donate and transform 4 pianos, Claire hosted painting and art history workshops, led piano design think-tanks within the schools, and performed and spoke to parents and students in three Musical Showcases.

“My goal was to provide music as an agent of social interaction, diffuser of stress, and beautiful engagement of the humanity within us, to those who don’t think to, or couldn’t afford to have it as their priority,” Claire said.

She believes that in this age of rising stress and decreasing human interaction (when what we need most are open, creative minds), the freedom to create is imperative. With the public charm of this project comes the sharing of ideas.

“When music is played, good or bad, instant community is created,” Claire said. “People stop to listen, and both the performer and the audience feel loved.”

TannahBrister Headshot

Tannah grew up serving with her church at Family Promise, an organization serving families who are homeless or in between homes. While at the church’s new location, she discovered empty flower gardens and found inspiration to pursue her Gold Award. She created a rock garden for the church’s outside area where the families could express themselves through painting rocks, and where they could leave their mark on a place that has helped them so much.

Tannah spent so much time exploring creative outlets herself, she thought it would be perfect to provide these opportunities to the families at Family Promise, in hopes that they could experience that same relief. The families loved decorating their rocks, and have sustained the program through their daily chores they perform in the church.

“The hardest part of this project was pulling up the grass in each of the gardens, as it proved to be very physically challenging for the whole team,” said Tannah. “The biggest triumph of this project was being able to see how much joy was experienced while the families were painting their rocks, and knowing that it did reduce their stress from the day.”

TanviTanvi Jankay - Headshot Picture edit

Tavani designed and hosted two workshops at the Art of Living Center focused on adolescent mental health and alleviating mental health issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression through yoga and meditation. At the workshops, she hosted speakers who gave presentations on how to increase positivism and demonstrated yoga and meditation techniques to the attendees.

She chose this project because she witnessed the strain mental health concerns can put on young people’s lives and how her peers navigated their struggles with mental health issues. “Yoga and meditation can provide people with relief by alleviating some of the negative energy stored in their minds and help people gain better control over their lives,” said Tanvi. Her program educated approximately 70 workshop attendees regarding the benefits of yoga and meditation to mental health.

“I brought attention to the widespread issue of adolescent mental health, and interactively demonstrated how to release negative energy using yoga and meditation,” said Tanvi. “The workshops were designed for adolescents in my community because of the growing rates of mental illness such as anxiety, depression, and stress in teens.”

These are just a few examples of what a Gold Award Girl Scout can accomplish. Gold Award recipients are truly exceptional young women who don’t only think about how they can improve their communities better, but also take action for positive change.

High school girls interested in joining a century of women who have done big things and earned Gold Award recognition should visit www.gsctx.org/goldaward to learn more about the benefits of going Gold – including preference in the college admittance process and scholarship opportunities. Younger girls interested in earning service awards should also consider earning their Bronze Award, Silver Award, or other service awards through Girl Scouts.

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