Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois (GSSI) is pleased to announce that Lane Sedlacek from Troy has earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest award a Girl Scout can receive.
For her Girl Scout Gold Award project, Lane worked with nonprofit CHAMP Assistance Dogs to help further their mission “to improve and enhance life skills and promote companionship through the placement of specially selected service dogs with qualified individuals and further, to always celebrate the mystery and joy inherent in the canine/human bond.”
To achieve this goal, she first enrolled herself and her family pet, Sammy, in the CHAMP therapy dog training course. According to CHAMP Assistance Dogs’ website, “a therapy dog is, most simply, a comfort create, a dog who offers affection and solace to those who can use a lift,” and is helpful in situations or environments where people may feel stress or depression, including hospitals, hospice, homeless shelters, and care centers for people with dementia.
After a great deal of training and practice, Lane and Sammy passed their evaluation to become a therapy team and began to receive assignments. Some of the places they volunteered included Elmwood Nursing Home, Cambridge House of Maryville and Barnes-Jewish Hospital, as well as multiple funerals, library programs and college exam week events.
“Bringing a dog into those settings can change the entire atmosphere,” said Lane. “I knew we made a difference from the faces of pure joy when Sammy walked in and kind words when leaving.”
To spread her enthusiasm for CHAMP Assistance Dogs’ mission, Lane promoted the program throughout the community to inspire others to get involved. She handed out literature and answered questions at numerous events, while also delivering presentations to other nonprofit groups, such as Troy Historical Society and area Boy Scouts.
“Now that Sammy is certified as a CHAMP therapy dog, he will continue with his visits for many years until he becomes a senior citizen and needs to retire,” said Lane. “Sharing information about therapy dogs and their effects on people was how I made sure my project can continue. I have told many others about my purpose in this project, and they have spread that to others.”
Lane felt that she experienced personal growth while working on her Girl Scout Gold Award project, as well. “I’m proud to say that Sammy becoming a therapy dog has helped me with my communication skills. I think this skill and the leadership skills I already possessed will grow together throughout my life and make me become a better leader. I have memories of helping people through my Girl Scout Gold Award project that I would not have experienced otherwise.”
Lane is the daughter of Linda Sedlacek and John Sedlacek and is a sophomore at Triad High School.
The Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest award a Girl Scout can earn, recognizes a Girl Scout's commitment to excellence as she develops skills and values to meet present and future challenges in her life. To earn the Girl Scout Gold Award, a Girl Scout Senior or Girl Scout Ambassador must design and carry out a project that fulfills a need within a girl’s community, creates change, and is sustainable. The project must be completed with a suggested minimum of 80 hours of work. Only about 5 percent of eligible girls earn the prestigious Gold Award.