A local Girl Scout program at Neal Middle School in Durham helped support the creation of a community garden to increase the availability of fresh produce for local homeless shelters and address the issue of hunger across the county.
The Discover the Leader in YOU! Leadership Series program at the middle school was a partnership between Girl Scouts – North Carolina Coastal Pines, United Way of the Greater Triangle’s Women’s Leadership Council and Communities in Schools of Durham. Eleven girls at the middle school participated in this leadership program to tackle the issue of food insecurity in the Triangle
“Service learning, which is an integral part of Girl Scouting, allows girls to both engage in their local communities and explore what it means to provide service both locally and globally on the issues of today,” said Lisa Jones, chief executive office at Girl Scouts – North Carolina Coastal Pines.
Creating the community garden allowed a hands-on experience for girls to identify a pertinent issue impacting those around them, implement an action plan, and create sustainable change within their local community. The girls hoped the garden would help raise awareness on issues related to hunger and poverty, create a way to donate fresh produce directly to local food banks, and most importantly, encourage others to become involved.
“Food insecurity, not just hunger but also worrying about where one’s next meal is coming from, is a very real issue in our Triangle community. This program allowed the girls to understand the deeper issue impacting so many of those living in and around our neighborhoods. Their garden is a wonderful step in beginning to reach out and help others,” said Angie Welsh, Senior Vice President of Community Impact at United Way.
In addition to the service learning component, the Discover the Leader in You program helped the girls develop healthy relationships through exploring what it takes to be a friend and what qualities they look for in their peers. Girls navigated through some of the challenges of friendship by learning about bullying and strategies on how to successfully resolve conflicts.
Most importantly, the girls were encouraged to discover the leaders within themselves. Through this series, they learned about their individual leadership style, they explored the power and potential they have as leaders, and gained skills needed to become the next generation of leaders.