Q&A: Girl Scout Completes Awareness Project for Gold Award

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Westford Academy junior Niamh McEwan is completing her Girl Scout Gold Award Project by raising awareness of melanoma, a potentially deadly skin cancer. McEwan hosted an event on May 25, National Don’t Fry Day, at Westford Academy. During the lunch periods, she distributed leaflets and information about the importance of covering up when outdoors in the sun. The Gold award is the highest award a Girl Scout can earn. It requires a girl to perform community service but also requires that the service affects change in the community. 

A student at Westford Academy views her skin for signs of cancer under an ultra-violet light. COURTESY PHOTO

A student at Westford Academy views her skin for signs of cancer under an ultra-violet light. COURTESY PHOTO

Tell us about your project.
I am currently working with the Children’s Melanoma Prevention Foundation on my Girl Scout Gold Award Project. My project focuses on encouraging more young people to wear sunscreen with UVA and UVB protection, before going outside for activities. More young people, especially young women, are being diagnosed with skin cancer. My target audience is teens in high school. Hormonal changes during puberty sometimes can cause moles to change and become malignant. The project will educate on the dangers of overexposure to the sun, how to stay safe and how to look for changes in your skin.

What does the project entail?
In order to achieve my goals, I created leaflets, posters and a presentation lesson to educate and spread awareness. I have attended a number of community events to also spread the word.  I have watched videos and heard many stories of teens losing their lives to skin cancer and I don’t want that to happen to anyone at Westford Academy.

All the sports teams are vulnerable to being burned by the sun’s rays while they are out training or playing a game. I recently gave a presentation to the ninth grade and handed in 3 gallons of chemical-free sunscreen for the students to use. The sunscreen was supported by the Westford Charitable Foundation and proceeds from my Nuts/Candy and Cookie sales.

What does the Gold Award mean in Scouting?
It’s a service project which will take a minimum of 80 hours. It is not just community service, though. It has to change behaviors in your community, have a global connection and be sustainable.

What does it mean to you?
The Gold Award has given me a chance to make a lasting difference in my community. It has also allowed me to grow as a person and develop new skills.

What’s your favorite academic subject and what extra curriculars do you do?
My favorite subject is history. I like history because I get really engaged with the events or topics that happened before I was born. I also enjoy doing photography and theater.

What are your future plans?
I’m interested forensic science and hope to study it in college.