Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois (GSSI) is pleased to announce that Megan Zaiz from Swansea has earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest award a Girl Scout can receive.
For her Girl Scout Gold Award project, Megan worked to increase awareness about the diagnosis and treatment of scoliosis, as well as provide support for those who have the condition, for which she herself is currently undergoing treatment. She felt that, as regular screening for scoliosis at schools has decreased over the years, understanding of the condition has decreased as well – despite the fact that it affects 1 in 40 people.
To reach out to the community, Megan developed a presentation, display and pamphlets about scoliosis to share at local health and education fairs. For children, she developed educational games to play while she shared information with their parents and encouraged screening. She was able to help educate approximately 2,100 people at events in Belleville, Swansea and Alton.
“I had a constant stream of people that visited my table to learn about scoliosis,” she said. “Many of them knew someone personally who had dealt with it and were happy to see me there spreading information. Others who did not know about scoliosis where interested in what I was doing.”
Megan also created a Facebook Page and blog that detailed her personal journey with scoliosis and shared helpful resources, In addition, she provided the pamphlets to area pediatricians’ offices to give to newly diagnosed patients.
“This was the first time that I spoke publically about scoliosis and my experiences with it,” she shared. “I learned to communicate with many people and be an advocate for a cause that was personal to me.”
Megan is the daughter of Dave and Michelle Zaiz. She is currently a senior at Belleville West High School and is planning to attend college after graduation to study Mechanical Engineering.
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.