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May 10, 2005 > These Daisies earn their 'petals'

These Daisies earn their 'petals'

by Veronica Velasquez

Spring is thriving and Newark's Daisy Troop 1315 is in full bloom. These someday-Girl Scouts who have helped clean up at Don Edwards Regional Park for Earth Day, been involved with Project Open Hand, the "One Bear Project," and "From Kids to Kids," a Christmas toy collection for local charities, are only five years old.

Girls ages five and six wanting to become Girl Scouts start out as Daisies, their symbol, a daisy composed of a "Promise Center" and "Learning Petals", earned through various activities. Each of the ten petals of the daisy represents an important Girl Scout value. Each time the girls take part in an activity designed to teach one of these values, a different colored petal is added to the flower on their vest. Troop 1315 is well known throughout the area for going above and beyond what is expected when earning their petals.

Their most recent task was in honor of Earth Day and took place at Don Edwards Regional Park. Although it was overcast, the Daisies, along with their parents, cleaned up an entire section of the park with energy and enthusiasm, filling four giant garbage bags with the trash they collected. Environmental activities can earn an orange ("Responsible for what I say and do") or green (Use Resources Wisely) petal.

"We all felt we made a difference that day," said troop leader Mary Forrest. "I constantly look for ways that our troop can help the community and learn at the same time."

Forrest had been looking forward to the day when her daughter, Katie, would be eligible to participate in the Girl Scouts. Daisies represented the youngest age for Girl Scouts but there was no Daisy Troop in Newark. This determined mother started a Daisy Troop in Newark.

Since its inception, Forrest, a Brownie in her youth, wanted the girls to gain more than the standard accumulation of patches. She wants them to feel they can make a difference in their community and in the world, regardless of age.

"I think that five-year-olds are not only capable of contributing to the community, learning new things, but they have a desire to do so," Forrest said.

This band of mini-activists has an extensive list of accomplishments, earning a brightly colored "value" petal for each act. They have participated in a Halloween UNICEF collection, walked in the Newark Kid's Parade for Newark Days, toured the Newark Fire Department, toured Newark PETCO to learn about respecting animals, handed out information on San Francisco Bay Area Girl Scouts at Newark Family Day at the Park, learned to make bread at House of Bread in Fremont, and put together bedside activity packages for the Children's Hospital of Oakland.

The girls made Christmas cards for AIDS/HIV patients for Project Open Hand's meal delivery service. Each meal that went out to the patients included a handmade card by the girls.

For the "One Bear Project," each girl donated her own previously loved stuffed animals for adoption by a needy child. This was particularly hard for some who felt sad about giving away their animals, yet they understood their kindness would make other children, who didn't have any animals, happy. One girl, who is allergic to stuffed toys and therefore didn't have any of her own, went to the store and bought one especially for the project. Projects such as "Open Hand" and "One Bear" may be rewarded with a spring green petal for being considerate and caring.

Other Daisy and Brownie troop leaders have told Forrest that her troop has inspired them to try new things. "They're surprised and happy and proud of us," said Forrest. Troop 1315 recently went on an overnight camping trip to the Children's Discovery Museum in San Jose, to the surprise of some of the other leaders. They will soon participate in yet another overnight trip to Bonfante Gardens in Gilroy. "The other troops couldn't believe we were going," recalled Forrest. "But I told them I think the girls can handle it."

The impact of Daisy values carries over to the girls' everyday lives, noted the troop mother. She says that some of the Daisies have been influenced enough by their experiences to seek out lonely children and make friends with them. "Instead of the typical, teasing behavior that they could be engaging in, they choose to make a positive impact on someone else."

The girls of Newark's Daisy Troop 1315 are: Katie Forrest, Shelby Maloney, Mikayla Cree, Julia DeLipski, Sarah Danielzadeh, Biance McGee, Jiana Joy Riguera, and Jordan Ebarle.

The next project for this unique troop will be at Family Kite Day, on May 14. The girls will run the information booth and guide visitors to the many activities of the day.

For more information on Bay Area Girl Scouts visit www.girlscoutsbayarea.org.

 
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