Project wins girl highest Scout honor

Published 9:20 pm Saturday, November 15, 2008

Senior Girl Scout Heather Coston, of Troop #5292, has earned the Girl Scout Gold Award – Girl Scouting’s highest achievement – for her community project, “Sensory Garden for Holiday House.” Girl Scouts who receive the Gold Award must complete a minimum of 65 hours in a community service project, including planning, preparing, and performing it.

Heather, the daughter of Jeff and Jennifer Coston, is a junior at Nansemond River High School. She has been a Girl Scout for seven years.

Heather’s Gold Award project reflects her dream to spend the rest of her life helping children through occupational or physical therapy. The Holiday House of Portsmouth, a home for mentally and physically challenged children, seemed the perfect place to conduct her project.


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Heather created a sensory garden at the house so the children could improve and develop their senses. She brought in sand, lava rock and river rock to teach the difference between gritty, rough and smooth textures. She planted flowers to help develop sight and smell. She purchased water fountains for the sound of trickling water.

She completed her project by providing a booklet about the new plants in the garden and a scrapbook documenting the garden’s transformation.

Heather’s project not only provided a safe learning environment for the children at Holiday House, but it was also a beneficial experience for her.

“I learned more about myself and that I enjoy helping people,” Heather said. “I learned that one day I might enjoy becoming an occupational therapist for children like the ones that live in this home.”

Heather also volunteers with the Challenged Athletes of West Virginia during the summer. She enjoys playing field hockey and swimming. She has already earned her Girl Scout Bronze and Silver Award and says she has gained a lot from her time as a Girl Scout.

“The volunteering opportunities, which I love, have made me a better person,” she said.

Annually, more 5,000 young women nationally – or just over 5 percent of Senior Girl Scouts – earn the Gold Award.

The Gold Award pin is a symbol of strength of character, leadership, service and outstanding accomplishment. The rays emanating from the trefoil represent reaching out to the community, the Girl Scout influence on the wider community and the interdependence of Girl Scouting and the community.