Project A-OK designed to reduce stigma of asking for help
BEDFORD, NH | Imagine asking for help holding open a door. Not too hard. Now asking for help with homework or an office project – a bit harder. Asking for help with a drug addiction, abuse, mental illness – just about the hardest thing one can do. Making it more socially acceptable to ask for help is exactly what Sarah Heimberg of Merrimack has addressed with her Girl Scout Gold Award project. The Gold Award is the highest level of achievement a Girl Scout can earn.
Heimberg, 17, worked with Merrimack Safeguard, a coalition of more than 25 members representing the community of Merrimack, including law enforcement, education, parents, youth, business, faith communities, and more, which grew out of the Merrimack Drug Advisory Council. As discussion of how to contribute to making the community better took place, she said a common thread was how to make it more socially acceptable and less embarrassing to ask for help.
“We decided if people saw that individuals that they look up to are asking for help, they’ll feel better about asking for help,” she said. “We decided to make an interview video.”
Heimberg spent a summer interviewing a variety of people, including Kevin Skarupa of WMUR-TV; Marge Chiafry, superintendent of Merrimack schools; Mark Doyle, retired Merrimack police chief; the Rev. Lynne Mentzer, of St. James United Methodist Church; the Rev. Pat Henking, vicar of Faith Episcopal Church; Rich Desmond, the Merrimack school bus coordinator; Shawna D’Amour, assistant principal of Merrimack Middle School; and more. The video was called A-OK, which stands for Ask for help, Offer help, Keep it going.
The video has been given to a variety of businesses and community organizations, and Heimberg said it has been played for the Merrimack School Board and other presentations. She found that those watching the video are more likely to ask for help when they need it.
“I hoped to reduce the stigma around asking for help,” she said, “which would benefit people of any age, gender, race or background.” One component of a Gold Award project is that it should be sustainable, and Heimberg hopes that her A-OK video will be used by many organizations and schools for years to come.
The video can be seen at https://youtu.be/o06YqduO36s.
Sarah exemplifies the Girl Scout DNA and takes the lead as a G.I.R.L. (Go-Getter, Risk-Taker, Innovator, Leader)™. To earn her Gold Award, each Girl Scout identifies and develops a Take Action project in her community that will stand the test of time, have a real and meaningful influence on people’s lives, and leave a legacy that lasts forever. It is one of the most challenging, exciting, and rewarding experiences a girl can have, and one of the most prestigious recognitions she’ll accomplish in life. And it’s only available at Girl Scouts.
Since 1916, Girl Scouts have been making meaningful, sustainable change in their communities and around the world. The Girl Scout Gold Award acknowledges the power behind each recipient’s dedication to not only empowering and bettering herself, but also to making the world a better place for others. Gold Award Girl Scouts are courageous leaders and visionary change makers.
About the Girl Scout Gold Award
- Gold Award Girl Scouts on average spend one to two years on their project.
- The average age of Gold Award Girl Scouts is 17.
- Since 1916, 1 million girls have earned the Gold Award or its equivalent.
- Gold Award Girl Scouts who join the armed forces enter one rank higher than other recruits.
- University research indicates that noting you are a Gold Award Girl Scout on a college application is influential in the admissions decision-making process.
- A Gold Award project must be sustainable after the girl’s involvement ends.
- 11 young women earned their Gold Award last year in New Hampshire and Vermont as part of Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains.
About Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains: Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains is recognized throughout New Hampshire and Vermont as a leading expert on girls. Our innovative leadership programs help girls discover, connect, and take action as they develop strong values, a social conscience, and a deep sense of self and their potential. Through our exciting and challenging programs, Girl Scouts not only participate but also take the lead in a range of activities—from kayaking, archery, and camping, to coding, robotics, financial literacy training, and beyond! Serving more than 10,000 girls throughout New Hampshire and Vermont, girls discover the fun, friendship, and power of girls together. Visit www.girlscoutsgwm.org.