Gabrielle Baron of Hooksett earns Girl Scouting’s highest honor
HOOKSETT, NH – Giving to her community and making the world a better place for children has long been a part of Gold Award Girl Scout Gabrielle Baron’s life. Now young children in Hooksett and other areas can benefit from sensory exploration opportunities at their town library, thanks to Baron’s project, “Sensory and Me.”
Baron, 18, of Hooksett, has earned Girl Scouting’s highest honor, the Gold Award, available to Girl Scouts in high school. She gave 83 hours of her time to improve the library’s sensory table area. Her two goals were to improve the bins containing items children use, which were too deep for small arms to reach into, and the other to provide 10 individual sensory bins to add to the curriculum, which contain 12 bags of contents that follow a monthly theme. Parents can use her curriculum guide to replicate the kits at home.
Her project stemmed from her interest in occupational therapy, having assisted students throughout high school in programs like Lunch Buddies and the unified sports team, along with wanting to give back to the Hooksett Public Library, where she had spent so much time and which had helped her through the years.
“The whole town revolves around the library,” Baron said. “I’ve been going to the library since I was little, and come to love the library. I wanted to give back.”
So what is a sensory table? It’s a table that can be used for children ages 3-5 to explore different tactile items like sand, water beads, crinkly paper, slime, and more, which helps develop motor skills and help them overcome difficulties with over- or under-stimulation.
Kari Fontaine, Baron’s project advisor and a Girl Scout troop leader, said sensory exploration is an important part of learning for kids of all ages.
“Gabby has an eye for sensory opportunities for children,” she said. “Part of her project included making changes to the existing sensory table at the Hooksett Library to better fit the needs of children participating in the programs offered by the library.”
Once Baron was successful in creating the Hooksett program, she took her concept to libraries in Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont, which were all happy to replicate the program. With a 40-page binder outlining the program, inventory needed, and pricing for bins and contents, it is a ready-to-go program. She has also arranged for younger Girl Scouts in Hooksett to maintain the project for years to come.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced Baron to come up with new ways to collect donations and meet with people to bring the project to completion, but she overcame this obstacle.
“One of my biggest experiences,” she said, “is that you can do anything you set your mind to. It was an overwhelming task. But I did it, and it showed me that if I broke down the project into smaller pieces, it wasn’t as big as I thought it was going to be.
Baron also credited her mother, troop leader, sister Girl Scouts, and the Hooksett community for their support in gathering donations and assembling the many kits for the project.
“It was important to Gabby to involve younger Girl Scouts in her project,” said Fontaine. “She is a natural leader! I hope many of the girls follow in her footsteps.”
“In the end, it was an eye-opening experience,” she said. “If I didn’t have the community piece, it wouldn’t have been as successful as it was. The Hooksett community has always supported me.”
Over her 12 years in Girl Scouts, Baron has enjoyed being a program aide at Camp Farnsworth summer camp, cooking outdoors, doing community service, working on the troop’s annual cookie castle, visiting new places, and making new friends. She mentored younger Girl Scouts, participated in her school’s Lunch Buddy program, and advocated for Pinkerton’s unified track team to have uniforms.
This graduate of Pinkerton Academy is now a freshman at Husson University in Bangor, Maine, majoring in occupational therapy.
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Gold Award Girl Scouts don’t just change the world for the better, they change it for good. The Gold Award is earned by girls in grades 9–12 who demonstrate extraordinary leadership in developing sustainable solutions to local, national, and global challenges. Since 1916, Girl Scouts have answered the call to drive lasting, impactful change. They earn college scholarships, demonstrate high educational and career outcomes, and are active in their communities.
Sarah Hardy has answered the call to drive lasting, impactful change, and her Gold Award is a testament to her remarkable dedication to improving her community and the world.
About the Girl Scout Gold Award
- Gold Award Girl Scouts on average spend one to two years on their project.
- A Gold Award project must be sustainable after the girl’s involvement ends.
- The average age of Gold Award Girl Scouts is 17.
- Since 1916, more than 1 million girls have earned the Gold Award or its equivalent.
- Gold Award Girl Scouts are entitled to enlist at a higher pay grade when they join the military.
- University research indicates that noting you are a Gold Award Girl Scout on a college application is influential in the admissions decision-making process.
- Twenty-two young women from New Hampshire and Vermont earned their Gold Award so far in the 2020-2021 membership year as part of Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains.
- The Girl Scout Gold Award is the mark of the truly remarkable!
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Girl Scouts bring their dreams to life and work together to build a better world. Through programs from coast to coast, Girl Scouts of all backgrounds and abilities can be unapologetically themselves as they discover their strengths and rise to meet new challenges—whether they want to climb to the top of a tree or the top of their class, lace up their boots for a hike or advocate for climate justice, or make their first best friends. Backed by trusted adult volunteers, mentors, and millions of alums, Girl Scouts lead the way as they find their voices and make changes that affect the issues most important to them. To join us, volunteer, reconnect, or donate, visit girlscouts.org.
Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains serves girls throughout New Hampshire and Vermont through volunteer-run troops, events, and virtual programs. Visit www.girlscoutsgwm.org to learn more.