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Crystal Simmons
(713) 292-0361

Girl Scouts teach handicapped children sign language to earn Gold Award

TEXAS CITY (Dec. 21, 2010) – Girl Scout Ambassadors Trezlyn G. and Marie Ann R. spent more than nine months teaching mentally handicapped, non-verbal children sign language throughout Houston to earn the Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council Gold Award, the highest award a Girl Scout can achieve. Less than five percent of girls who join Girl Scouts earn this recognition.

“I learned that I could help younger children, handicapped or not, learn the use of sign language in the real world,” says Trezlyn, a senior at Clear Lake High School.

Earning the Gold Award is a significant honor that requires recipients to demonstrate outstanding leadership skills, career planning, community involvement and personal development. It takes more than 100 service hours and two to three years of intensive work to complete the award requirements, which include planning and completing a project that is a service to the community.

“We wanted to do something for the school and the special needs children’s group that would be useful to them,” explains Marie, a home school student.

Marie and Trezlyn taught sign language to more than 14 interested groups, including the Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts, and to students at Houston and Kemah schools. They also developed eight student books and two teacher books each with 134 pages containing all the signs they taught their students.

“Trez was determined to finish her Gold Award,” says Lana Plasek, Trezlyn’s mother. “She knew it was going to be a lot of hard work, but I am so happy she stuck with it and finished.”

“Marie has grown in her ability to teach sign language, not only to special needs children but to groups and adults,” says Marlin Ridenour, Marie’s mother.

As a Girl Scout, Trezlyn earned her Silver award and enjoys camping, backpacking and nursing. Her extracurricular activities include soccer and track. After graduation, she plans to attend the Air Force.

As a Girl Scout, Marie has earned her Bronze and Silver awards. She also studies sign-language and works at the Texas City Church of Christ. After graduation, she plans to attend the College of the Mainland.

Girl Scouts of the USA is the world's preeminent organization for girls, with a membership of more than 3.7 million girls and adults. Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. Chartered by GSUSA to provide Girl Scouting locally, Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council is one of the largest Girl Scout councils in the country serving more than 72,000 girl members and 18,000 adults in 26 southeast Texas counties. For more information call 1-800-392-4340 or visit www.gssjc.org.

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