Gold Award Project Spreads Healthy Smiles Beyond Borders

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When it came time for Julie of Troop 329 to plan her Gold Award project, choosing an activity to serve a Spanish-speaking community seemed to be an obvious choice. Julie, who had taken Spanish courses since kindergarten, chose to write a book in Spanish for children in San Bartolo, El Salvador, where her church frequently traveled for mission trips.

“I talked to the woman who runs the trip about what the biggest need was in the community and she said that the biggest necessity was dental care. I wrote my book about two children visiting the dentist and taking care of their teeth properly so hopefully the children in the community would take an interest in taking care of their teeth,” she said. Julie also assembled dental kits with toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss, and proper dental instructions.

Julie said dental health in the community has been improving significantly over the years, and the number of extractions performed by the group’s dentist gets lower and lower each year. The aim of the book, though, was to start good habits early for the children in the El Salvadorian community. Forty books and kits were distributed in the community during her trip, and Julie plans to return in June where she hopes to see the impact of her project.

“The experience of going to El Salvador was incredibly valuable. I made a lot of friends while I was there and now I’m really excited to go back. Knowing that I’ve helped children lead healthier lives really means a lot to me,” she said.

Julie said that attending her high school, which required a significant amount of community service work, and growing up as a Girl Scout instilled a sense of civic responsibility in her.

“That sense of service has always been with me. I think it’s something everyone should do and I’m excited to continue with it and go back to El Salvador this summer,” she said. “It’s an amazing feeling of accomplishment to know I did such a big project and that the project helped other people. I love knowing that I am capable of doing something this big that touches other people’s lives in another part of the world.”

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