Local Girl Scouts troop partners with local Black-owned businesses to teach girls leadership skills.
By Tracey Edwards
The Girl Scouts of America has a long history of instilling a sense of self, community service, civic engagement, and education in young girls. In turn that produces better outcomes when girls become adults.
“As an organization, it is something that helps girls build confidence, courage, and to explore through different activities and learning new skills,” said Amber Gooden, Troop 70535 leader.
Troop 70535 is located in Westchester and is made up of Black girls from South Los Angeles and Inglewood. The girls learn leadership skills as they perform community service. Troop leaders partner with local Black-owned businesses with a focus on businesses owned by women, for learning activities and community service. Recently the troop sold Girl Scout cookies at Hanks’ Mini Market in Hyde Park, and they had a dance workshop at Nicholas Dance Studio in Leimert Park.
Several of the troop members’ parents are business owners, so there are entrepreneurial and financial literacy workshops. In recent years there has been a big push for STEM programs in Black communities, and the troop had a workshop at Teach to Reach in Jefferson Park.
“It gives the girls the confidence to work in the sciences,” Gooden said. “It gives them the confidence that as women, we can do these things as well. We expose them to women in that industry.”
While the Girl Scouts helps students academically, the organization also helps them socially to become well-rounded people as they grow up.
“We really try to bring everything back to the Girl Scout Promise, which the girls say at every meeting,” Gooden said. “It’s a pledge to be a good Girl Scout, a friend to one another, a leader in our community, to be respectful to our friends, and to help other people. We apply that in all areas.”
Gooden stresses the importance of supporting Black girls in the Girl Scouts as the troop sells Girl Scout cookies.
“We’re not as well represented,” she said. “Not only as Girl Scouts, but even in Girl Scout leadership. Supporting these girls in that process is helpful, and it helps them build confidence. Because they may not see themselves when they go to a regional Girl Scout event. There are subtle things, so when you support a Black Girl Scout, it’s more of helping that Girl Scout feel confident in who she is as a young Black girl.”
Gooden, who grew up in South Torrance, was a Girl Scout when she was a child.
“I had a great experience,” she said. “I was the only child of color in my troop. I was always made to feel welcomed by the organization and by my troop. But I do remember wishing that there was somebody else who looked like me when I went to Girl Scout events. I had a lot of memories that I want my two girls to have that same experience.”
The skills that Gooden learned and the experiences that she had has helped her as an adult.
“I always worked in leadership positions in my career,” she said. “I worked in management, and I have the confidence to encourage people and to lead them.”
Follow Troop 70535 on Instagram. To find a local Girl Scouts troop visit www.girlscouts.org