Girl’s idea garners Gold Award

ABOVE: Madison Sokoloski is a Girl Scout set to receive her Gold Award this May. She created the Busy Bags to reassure and soothe pediatric hospital patients in stressful circumstances.

FAIRMONT — A compassionate girl scout from Troop #34517 is set to be granted the Gold Award of the Girl Scout organization. Madison Sokoloski has constructed her project, ‘Busy Bags’ to aid frightened, timid pediatric patients during their time admitted to the hospital, especially during intense situations. Inside the Busy Bags, children will be entertained by coloring pages (hand-designed by Sokoloski), crayons, sensory bottles, marble mazes, lacing cards, fidgets and stimulating toys to hold their spirits high.

Madison Sokoloski is a sophomore at Martin Luther High School (MLHS) and has been a member of her Girl Scouts troop for 11 years. She has performed acts of community service, community engagement, toy drives and cookie sales throughout the county. As Madison advanced into her latest years in Girl Scouts, she seized the incredible opportunity to qualify for her Gold Award. For such an outstanding idea, the Busy Bags, the committee approved the sustainability and usage of the project. This approval secures Sokoloski the Gold Award, which she will receive on May 19th.

The Gold Award is the highest honor a Girl Scout can receive. It acknowledges seniors or ambassador scouts who take their ideas and create resolutions to modern dilemmas within the community. A scout must identify an issue within the community, research a chosen issue, form a team, mobilize donors and spend 80 hours working on a plan to tackle the community issue at hand. The scout will then introduce her proposal to the Girl Scouts Council, reflecting on the experience she gained and the impact the project placed on the people that were aided.

“To qualify for a Gold award, a scout must identify a concern within the community and discover a root cause. Then, it is the scout’s job to come up with an idea [for a solution].” Nancy Klemek, a troop leader, stated, “Coming up with an idea is always the hardest part.”

Sokoloski explained that she recognized the heightened emotions of fear patients meet during medical examination, prompting her to create the Busy Bags that would benefit said patients.

“I know people in the hospital usually don’t have a lot to do. For children, it can be really scary so I wanted to find a way to keep them entertained and help them stay calm,” said Sokoloski.

She presented her idea to Kiwanis, which provoked many donors to support the Busy Bags project. Culligan Water, Kiwanis, Nancy Klemek, Girl Scouts Service Unit and the Martin County Youth Foundation grant aided Sokoloski and her plan.

“There were applications and questionnaires to fill out to get donations, and a lot of it’s word of mouth, too,” Sokoloski said.

Sokoloski and Klemek remarked on Sokoloski’s decision to challenge for the Gold Award earlier than most, a choice that resulted in a remarkable success.

“Many [scouts] who start in their junior year [of high school] struggle to finish…especially with time management. So I figured if I did it earlier, it’d be a lot easier to get it done.” Sokoloski explained.

Klemek explained that scouts have performed projects at an early age. Girl Scouts in 4th or 5th grade can earn their Bronze Award when they complete projects as a team. Girl Scouts in 6th, 7th, or 8th grade can earn their Silver Award by completing community projects in maximum groups of four, or individually. Sokoloski has earned both Bronze and Silver awards, completing the award trio this year with her Busy Bags which landed her Gold.

Overall, and with the help of a team to further put her plan into action, Sokoloski created a total of 130 Busy Bags with the assorted activities. Thirty bags have been generously donated to the Fairmont Mayo Clinic and the remaining 100 to the Rochester Mayo Clinic. Words of appreciation were shared towards Sokoloski for her selfless efforts to help the patients in both hospitals.

Upon receiving the award, the award can grant scholarships and after-graduation aid. Once she graduates high school, Sokoloski plans to become a Lifetime Member Girl Scout, remaining engaged with the civic involvement the Girls Scouts displays.

Sokoloski concluded and reflected on her recent success with relief and pride.

“I’m glad I got it done,” she said with a chuckle. She later added her own message of motivation, “If you’re going to do it, you have to stay committed. You’ll have a busy schedule, and there’s a risk of losing interest, but you have to stay committed.”

Sokoloski and her team gifted the donation recipients binders of instructions for the Busy Bag. This allows volunteers to keep and use Sokoloski’s ideas to keep patients thriving.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today