Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Girl Scouts Visit the Georgia State Capitol

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By: Lime Green Giraffe Copy Editor, Sydnie C.



When asked what girls would gain from Girl Scout Day at the Capitol, Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta CEO, Amy Dosik, replied that girls would learn how to use their voices to advocate for issues important to them and to gain a greater understanding of the legislative process. From the intrigue and fascination that radiated from the faces of my fellow Girl Scout sisters throughout the duration of the event, I think it is safe to say that not only did they learn about the legislative process, but they were also enthralled by it. Mission accomplished, Ms. Dosik.
On the morning of February 7th, dozens of organizations such as firefighters, fraternities, court workers, and others flocked to the Capitol to meet with elected officials and to have a photo-op with Georgia’s Governor Nathan Deal. Scattered in the sea of these legislative-savvy citizens were waves of Girl Scouts. Clad in uniforms emblazoned with an array of badges and patches, Girl Scouts eagerly participated in the events, which included a scavenger hunt, a photo-op with Governor Deal, and an informative panel about the importance of women in politics.
The day started with a Capitol-wide scavenger hunt, where Girl Scouts were challenged to look for artifacts scattered around the Capitol building. Excitement buzzed through the hallowed corridors of the Capitol as girls checked off the items from their scavenger hunt lists. In between activities, girls had the opportunity to sit in the House and Senate’s respective galleries to witness assignment of bills to committees.
Mid-morning, girls then posed with Governor Deal on the Capitol steps in the North Wing for a photograph. Amid the buzz from chattering Girl Scouts and before the picture, I was able to inquire about the Governor’s favorite Girl Scout cookie. While the Governor admitted that he was a fan of all Girl Scout cookies, he also shared a heartwarming anecdote about how the First Lady drinks her tea out of a Girl Scout mug every morning.
The day culminated with a panel featuring Representatives Meagan Hanson, Paulette Paulding, Renitta Shannon, and Michelle Henson. Although these women hailed from different districts around the state of Georgia, they promoted a kindred message to girls: exercise your voice.
Representative Hanson told girls that she first got involved in politics, because she grew tired of only being represented by “Bills, Bobs, and Richards.” As noted by Hanson, fifty percent of her district’s population is composed of women, so who better to represent the women of her district than a woman. Hanson also shared an unsettling fact that only one woman has been elected as a Senator to serve the state of Georgia at the national level. Her tenure was halted a mere twenty-four hours after her election, meaning that she never got to serve in that position.
Representative Paulding encouraged girls to get involved in their student council and to attend their school board meetings. She also warned girls to not only follow national elections, but also local elections because those directly impact girls’ respective communities. Her parting advice urged girls to be aware of current events and to build rapports with their elected officials.
Representative Shannon reminded girls of the importance of representation. Shannon discussed how firefighters were developing more chronic, life-threatening illnesses compared to other careers. The state of Georgia, in turn, provided a healthcare program to firefighters who had been diagnosed with lung, prostate, and other cancers. Shannon and others realized that the list of cancers included cancers that were exclusive to male firefighters but not to female firefighters. Shannon and women from her district successfully rallied together to get cancers, like cervical cancer, added to the list that was covered by the health care program.
Representative Henson stressed the importance of volunteering. Much like Representative Hanson, Henson reminded girls of the dearth of women in politics. As mentioned by Henson, no female has ever served in the capacity of Speaker of the House, Lieutenant Governor, or Governor for the state of Georgia.
The overarching message presented in the speech’s of these powerful women precisely encapsulated the overall theme for the day: “You are never too young to be involved.” 

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