Briarcliff High School Student Stephanie Vaream recently earned her Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest award in Girl Scouts. The high school senior who has been a Girl Scout since kindergarten chose the topic of Mental Health Awareness for her project. Vaream set out to raise mental health awareness in Westchester County and reduce the stigma involved with mental illness since 1 in 5 people suffer from it. For her award, she created a pamphlet that provides information on causes and symptoms of mental illnesses, as well as treatments and where to seek help. She collaborated with the Westchester Public Library system to provide access to the pamphlet online, as well as placing them at local doctor’s offices.
Vaream also organized a walk in 2018 at Croton Point Park to raise awareness on mental health, where she partnered with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). The AFSP provided information on ways to save a life, their Out of Darkness walks and their memory quilt programs. Their Life Keeper memory quilt program is a way to put a face on suicide and raise awareness. Loss survivors create individual memory squares, which are assembled into traditional quilts that are displayed at public events. Vaream raised enough money to buy the materials needed to make several hundred memory squares.
Lastly, she created a screening tool that is used at local pediatrician offices to diagnose at risk adolescents suffering from mental illness. The pamphlets and screening tools allow a dialogue to discuss mental health and provide help when needed. “The more we discuss mental health, the lower the stigma attached to it and the more those in need will get help. People talk so openly about physical health and should do the same with mental health,” said Vaream. “It has been extremely rewarding to help local adolescents and provide information on mental illnesses to residents in Westchester County.”
If you are an active Girl Scout in high school and would like to go for the Gold Award, search Gold Award on GirlScoutsHH.org.