Wauwatosa resident builds wheelchair accessible gardens and earns highest Girl Scout honor

May 8, 2014

Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Southeast (GSWISE) has awarded Wauwatosa resident and Girl Scout Samantha Stark the highest honor in Girl Scouting—the Girl Scout Gold Award. Girl Scouts who receive this award are challenged to complete a variety of requirements and carry out a project that meets an expressed need in the community and beyond.

Stark built two mobile gardens for students at Fairview South School in Brookfield, a school for students with mild to severe cognitive disabilities. The gardens are accessible at two different heights to accommodate different size wheelchairs.

Stark was inspired to take on the project after meeting a student at Fairview South who was not wheelchair bound, but who has Downs Syndrome and difficulty with gross motor skills. The mobile gardens, which were built from Trex boards and require relatively little maintenance, are intended to be a learning tool for students working on their motor skills.

“I thought that gardening might be a good way of helping [this student], and other kids who have trouble learning in traditional ways,” Stark said in her Gold Award final report.

Stark has shared her garden design so that other organizations might also build their own wheelchair accessible gardens. She says both the students and teachers at Fairview South have benefited from her project: Students have a fun, practical new way to learn, and teachers have access to a unique teaching tool.

Stark is a junior at Brookfield Academy. After high school she plans to attend college and hopes to travel the world.

"Earning the Girl Scout Gold Award designation is truly a remarkable achievement, and this young woman exemplifies leadership in all its forms," said Christy L. Brown, Chief Executive Officer of Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Southeast. "She saw a need in her community and took action. Her extraordinary dedication, perseverance, and leadership, is making the world a better place."

About the Girl Scout Gold Award

The Gold Award represents the highest achievement in Girl Scouting; it recognizes girls in grades 9 through 12 who demonstrate extraordinary leadership through sustainable and measurable Take Action projects. Since 1916, girls have successfully answered the call to go gold, an act that indelibly marks them as accomplished members of their communities and the world. A Girl Scout who has earned her Gold Award immediately rises one rank in any of the U.S. military branches.

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