Girl Guides and Girl Scouts make sustainable connections – thanks to Verizon

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At the start of 2016, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) launched a global competition, made possible thanks to a grant from the Women’s Association of Verizon Employees. Girl Guides and Girl Scouts around the globe were asked to use technology to design an innovative solution for their community and help achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Entries closed in September – and it’s now time to reveal the winners.

Entries were submitted from all over the world: Ireland, Kenya, Tanzania and the United Kingdom to name a few. Congratulations to our top three winning teams:

  • YESS Girls Africa team from Uganda and Rwanda dreamed up an idea to leverage technology to support environmental protection. The group will secure partnerships with mobile companies and media houses in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Madagascar, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe to support the establishment of the “African Green Generation.” Participants who sign up to the programme will have a tree planted in their honour, and will also receive a badge and T-shirt. The project supports SDG 13 – Protect the Planet – and also SDG 4 – Quality Education.
  • Arusha Girl Guides of Tanzania created a concept using plastic bottles to build an environmentally-friendly guiding centre, which will also serve as a centre of innovation for the local community. The aim is to expand usage of this cost-effective and sustainable building style, and also provide a means for recycling plastic bottles, which is a large environmental problem in their country. The project supports SDG 9 – Innovation and Infrastructure.
  • Irish Girl Guides IGGNITE 2017 camp plans to bring together 1500 girls from the Guiding movement to explore STEM activities. The young women who attend the camp will be leaders of the future. By helping them learn and engage in STEM activities, they will be able to take these skills back to their communities. The girls will report back on their STEM progress via vlogs, blogs and photos. The project supports SDG 4 and 5 – Quality Education and Equality in Education.

“I was very impressed at the range of the team’s ideas,” said Jim Gowen, Verizon’s Chief Sustainability Officer. “Our eventual winners were chosen because their ideas were targeted, specific and actionable. We also were particularly interested in projects that impacted the broader community, rather than just the Guides themselves. The winning projects also had a good fit with Verizon’s own approach to sustainability, and our focus on STEM through both WAVE and the Verizon Foundation.”

Honourable mentions should also go to the following entries:

  • Association Nationale des Guides de Centrafrique: “Guides of Social Transformation”
  • YESS Team Rwanda: Girls Against Early Pregnancy
  • Nabeul Group Tunisia: Between Dreams and Reality
  • Larissa Kennedy, UK: Universal Feminist Society
  • Bishop Gatimu Ngandy Girls High School, Kenya: Smart Safe Youth Project
  • Irish Girl Guides: Creating Entrepreneur Opportunities Project

Jo Perrin, co-president of WAVE Worldwide, commented: “It’s great to see such innovative ideas coming from Guides around the globe, and we’re really looking forward to following the girls’ progress as they now move their projects from the drawing board to reality. It’s also been inspiring to see how the girls are interpreting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and coming up with meaningful programmes that will make a positive impact on their broader communities. The SDGs are really a blueprint for thinking about a better future – and the Guides have shown that, as a movement, they are definitely equal to the task of helping to making this future a reality. The UN’s objective is to end extreme poverty, inequality and climate change by 2030. Perhaps the Guides can bring this goal a little closer?”

The ‘Verizon Stay Connected’ competition launched on February 22, 2016 – World Thinking Day – and was open to the 10 million Girl Guides and Scouts around the world. World Thinking Day has been WAGGGS’ annual celebration of Guiding and Scouting since 1926, and is when the Association asks its members to speak out on issues that affect girls and young women.

WAGGGS was chosen to receive the grant as WAVE wanted to support projects focused on professional development for women, and particularly connected to building the STEM pipeline. Through delivery of the project in their community, and the use of technology to address local issues, girls will take action to change the world through the development of STEM skills.

WAVE’s grant was provided by Verizon Innovative Learning, the education initiative of the Verizon Foundation, and aims to bring technology and hands-on learning opportunities to middle and high school students in underserved schools and communities. Verizon Innovative Learning has reached more than 220,000 students so far – and we’re just getting started.

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