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Crystal Simmons
(713) 292-0321

Girl Scout spreads awareness about disease to earn Gold Award

HOUSTON (March 17, 2011) – Girl Scout Ambassador Michelle C. started a campaign to spread awareness and advocate for those afflicted with Ankylosing Spondylitis, a chronic, inflammatory arthritis and autoimmune disease that causes fusing of the spine, 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 an idea from one person can grow and make a positive change in the lives of many,” says Michelle, a junior at Houston Christian 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.

“I chose the project to benefit all of those who suffer from Ankylosing Spondylitis,” explains Michelle.

For her project, Michelle started a letter writing campaign to congressional leaders promoting research of AS. She also held 81 training sessions in 16 communities, where she showed firefighters, lifeguards and EMS personnel an AS awareness video and distributed information kits on how to care for AS patients in emergency situations.

“The Gold Award work taught her to communicate with groups more effectively; how to organize, plan and lead large events; how to document the process; and how to break a huge task down into workable pieces,” says David and Cherie Chaney, Michelle’s parents.

As an active member of Girl Scouts since she was in kindergarten, Michelle has earned her Silver and Bronze Awards. At Houston Christian High School, Michelle has held many officer positions in drill team and was part of the Doxa Dance Company her junior year. Following graduation, she plans to study pre-law and Chinese in college.

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

GSSJC | Communications Department
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