Scottsdale Girl Scout tells seniors’ stories to win award 

Maddie O’Rourke brought the Stories Lives program to Scottsdale seniors. (Submitted photo)


Scottsdale teen Maddie O’Rourke has received a Gold Award from the Girl Scouts – Arizona Cactus-Pine Council, the highest and most prestigious award a girl can earn in Girl Scouting. 

While often compared to the Boy Scouts’ Eagle Scout merit, “the Gold Award requires sustainable change,” according to a release announcing the honor. 

“Girls who pursue their Gold Award aspire to transform an idea and vision for change into an actionable plan with measurable, sustainable and far-reaching results,” the release stated. 

All 22 Gold Award recipients from central and northern Arizona were honored at the Girl Scout High Award Ceremony Saturday, March 24 at Arizona State University. 

“Each and every year, our Gold Award Girl Scouts never cease to amaze me,” said Tamara Woodbury, CEO of GSACPC. “By earning the Gold Award, these young women are demonstrating incredible courage, confidence and character, and that they are ready to become tomorrow’s leaders in our communities, our country and the world.”  

To earn the Gold Award, girls spend more than 80 hours working on a project that addresses a community problem and is important to each girl, according to the release. Overall, the process usually takes 18-24 months and often involves seeking in-kind donations and recruiting volunteers.  

For most of the girls, the award is the culmination of more than 10 years in the Girl Scouts.

“Gold  awardees distinguish themselves in the college admission process, earn college scholarships and enter the military one rank higher” the release stated. 

Nationally, about 1 million Girl Scouts in grades 9-12 have earned the Gold Award or its equivalent since 1916. 

According to the release: “For O’Rourke’s Gold Award project, she brought the Stories Lives program to Scottsdale. This program, founded in New Jersey, encourages high school students to connect with the elderly in their community by writing stories about their lives. O’Rourke paired teens with seniors in a local assisted living facility to have them interview them about their lives. 

“These stories have since been made into a book and shared at a special ceremony at the facility, attended by family and other residents.” 

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