Pictured left to right: Emily Newhall, Cole Fox, Ellie Washburn & Mia Dawson. Courtesy photo

It all started about a dozen years ago when four young women came together over a common goal in South Pasadena. Now, those four find themselves on the cusp of attaining the highest award available to Girl Scouts, the Gold Award.

The four young women – Mia Dawson, Cole Fox, Emily Newhall, all juniors at South Pasadena High School, and Ellie Washburn, a junior at Westridge School in Pasadena – have known each other since they were five.

“In 2007, a group of excited five-year-old kindergarteners gathered for their first Daisy meeting at Arroyo Vista,” Rachel Fox, the mother of Cole, said in an email to The Review. “Now, 11 years later, four girls from Troop 1491 are going for gold – working to receive their Girl Scout Gold Award – the highest award in Girl Scouts.”

Rachel Fox went on to say that the four juniors will be receiving the award that fewer than six percent of Scouts every achieve later in the spring.

“Fewer than six percent of Scouts receive this prestigious honor,” she said. “Led by Angie Dawson and Jane Washburn, the girls have chosen Gold Award projects that specifically impact South Pasadena.” 

For example, Emily Newhall’s project is a Breast Cancer Awareness Walkathon and is scheduled to take place from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Feb. 2, Saturday, at the SPHS track. The walkathon is open to the public.

“At the walkathon, people will have the opportunity to walk around the track to honor people who have suffered from breast cancer, earn prizes, learn about breast cancer and how to prevent it, and have fun,”  Newhall said in an email to The Review. “I was inspired to focus my project on breast cancer because my mom is a double breast cancer survivor. I want to reach the community and promote awareness for reaching a cure, supporting those with breast cancer, and preventing men and women from getting it.”

Meanwhile, Mia Dawson’s project focuses on dance, which she says is her passion.

“Dance is a passion and a source of creativity people use to communicate their feelings and get their mind off of reality,” Dawson said in an email to The Review. “Unfortunately, people are unable to take classes because their school doesn’t offer or have a dance department or their family can’t afford to pay for classes. I want to be there to coach and train people who are passionate about pursuing dance, want to expand their creativity, exercise, or simply want to try something new. For my Gold Award, I am currently teaching dance class at South Pasadena Middle School on Thursdays and at Rosemont Middle School in La Crescenta on Tuesdays free to any middle school students.”

Dawson also said that being able to accomplish this goal with her childhood friends make this even more special.

“Scouting has always meant sisterhood to me and completing this Gold Award Project with my childhood friends is very rewarding,” Dawson said. “It is not an easy project, but my goal is to spread dance awareness and skills to young kids in South Pasadena and surrounding communities.” 

Cole Fox found her project among the rocks, so to speak. She explains.

“My project, LOVE Rocks! is all about spreading kindness – through art,” Fox said. “I’m working with students at Arroyo Vista and we’re painting rocks with messages of kindness and empathy that we will spread all around town. It’s a simple way to spread kindness during a time in which all we hear or read about is hatred and intolerance. Kindness matters and LOVE Rocks!”

And then there’s Ellie Washburn’s project, “Prosperity Through Dexterity,” which is designed to develop fine motor skills in elementary and middle school students. She came upon the idea while taking an Elementary Education course at Arroyo Vista Elementary School. “Fortunately, this opportunity at Arroyo Vista allowed me to collaborate with my former second-grade teacher, and gain exposure and have the ability to do hands-on work with the students in her class for two hours, three times a week,” Washburn said in an email to The Review. “Because of this experience, I noticed that some of the children struggled with their fine motor skills, and I remembered this when starting to brainstorm ideas for my project. I also found out that the development of fine motor skills has been steadily decreasing with the advent of technology.”

Washburn explored the possibility of creating a kit that would produce the necessary activity to increase motor skills.

“When talking with my advisor, Ellen Main, she suggested also tying in Sensory Processing Disorders since this affects five to sixteen percent of school-aged children as well,” Washburn said. “As a result, I wanted my project, ‘Prosperity Through Dexterity,’ to focus on a tool that would introduce a sensory diet into the daily routines of students and encourage the use of fine motor skills through activity kits used in the classrooms. Finally, my kits that I’m assembling will be used in three different school districts at the elementary and middle school grade level in South Pasadena, Glendale, and Los Angeles area.”

This story could not have been done without the contributions of Rachel and Cole Fox, Emily Newhall, Ellie Washburn and Mia Dawson.

Steve Whitmore
Author

Steve Whitmore is the editor for the South Pasadena Review. Steve has spent more than four decades as an award-winning print and broadcast journalist with a 16-year stint as the senior media advisor for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Steve comes to us from the Keene Sentinel in Keene, New Hampshire, where he covered politics and was a columnist.

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