Usually, the first thing I think of when I hear "girl scouts" are the cookie sales that they hold. I came across an article today that has me thinking about the organization in a much different light.
The Girl Scouts started Girl Scouts Beyond Bars in 1992, as a pilot program in Maryland, with a 2 million dollar grant from the federal government. The idea is a simple one. Give mothers and daughters a chance to communicate and interact with one another.
Girl Scouts Beyond Bars is open to girls ages 5 to 17. The program provides bus transportation to the prisons and volunteers to sit with the girls during the often long rides. Meetings are conducted by licensed social workers, volunteers or Girl Scouts Beyond Bars staff members. In a typical meeting, mothers and daughters chat informally and work together to earn Girl Scouts badges, from science, architecture and math exercises to a "beauty badge" that helps girls to select age-appropriate clothes, hair, makeup and nail polish.The article indicates that the program is currently in place at 23 facilities in 22 states.
The girls work toward community service badges by creating crafts for local women's shelters, earn art badges by painting murals on prison walls and receive budgeting badges by constructing household budgets based on mock salaries and expenses. As part of earning a communications badge, mothers and daughters are ask to role play, acting out how they would handle situations such as an unexpected pregnancy or a drug-abuse problem.
I think I'll be buying a lot more cookies from the Girl Scouts from now on if it helps them support programs like this one. Today was the Girl Scouts' first Congressional Lobby Day. I hope they made a good impression in Washington, D.C. They have with me. If the Girl Scouts aren't involved with this program in Delaware, they should be. It looks like it would be worth pursuing further.