Photos courtesy of Girl Scouts–Arizona Cactus-Pine Council

Girl Scouts–Arizona Cactus-Pine Council (GSACPC) awarded its most prestigious honor, the Gold Award, to 22 local girls this year. This distinguished award recognizes Girl Scouts in grades nine through 12 who act in their communities by tackling an issue they are passionate about and developing sustainable solutions to local, national, and global challenges.

“This year’s Gold Award honorees exemplify fantastic leadership and civic engagement by dedicating themselves to addressing important causes and taking action to make the world a better place,” says Christina Spicer, co-CEO of GSACPC. “As a nationally recognized symbol of leadership, the Gold Award is a truly remarkable achievement.”

According to Mary Mitchell, co-CEO of GSACPC, this year’s Gold Award winners tackled prominent issues faced by their communities by establishing designated mental health spaces for students on high school campuses, fighting food insecurity in Indigenous communities, building the first dog park located in a national park, designing inspirational campus murals with world-renowned artists, collecting bikes and helmets for children of military families, creating online resource platforms for youth and much more.

“The Gold Award allows Girl Scouts to showcase the problem-solving, communication and time management skills they have learned throughout their experience in the organization and prepares young leaders by giving them the confidence to succeed,” says Mitchell. “By earning the Gold Award distinction, the 22 awardees join a legacy of Girl Scouts that have used their passion and persistence to make a lasting positive impact on the community.”

Recipients of the Gold Award not only change the world for good and establish themselves as community leaders, but awardees can also take advantage of unique scholarship opportunities, are entitled to enlist at a higher pay grade when they join the military, distinguish themselves among the competition in the college admissions process, and when entering the workforce.

Among the 2023 Gold Award Girl Scouts winners is one from Paradise Valley:

Misha Ghafouri
Iranian Youth Connections
As a first generation Iranian American, Ghafouri often felt there wasn’t a welcoming space for Iranian American youth to connect with one another and learn from passionate Iranian leaders, which inspired her Gold Award project, Iranian Youth Connections. This online platform is dedicated to creating a welcoming space for Iranian youth to connect, learn more about Iranian culture, and gain skills to become successful leaders in their community. To ensure her project’s success and sustainability, Ghafouri created a website and partnered with the Iranian American Society of Arizona to provide high-quality mentorship and programs for Iranian youth. She was also invited to speak at their annual gala and held a booth at the annual Persian New Year Festival with an audience of 5,000 people. Her Gold Award project helped her gain confidence and professional networking skills that have helped her share the importance of her cultural heritage. As a Girl Scout of 14 years, she will continue to amplify her voice and advocate for the Iranian American community at a local and global level.