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Website for foster teens earns GSSJC Gold Award Girl Scout a $10,000 scholarship


Congratulations to Adison Smith, this year's GSUSA Gold Award Scholarship recipient for the Girl Scout of San Jacinto Council! The Gold Award Girl Scout received $10,000 to help her pursue a college degree.

Adison received the scholarship based on the impact and sustainability of her Gold Award project, Myvoiceincourt, a website she created to assist teenagers aging out of the foster care system. Many foster children get lost in a bureaucratic maze when it is time to exit the state system. Adison’s website provides these children, turned young adults, with a host of valuable resources to navigate the system and life beyond – and gives them hope for a brighter future.

Girl Scouts of the United States of America awards a scholarship every year to one Gold Award Girl Scout in each council across the country for their outstanding work on their Gold Award project. GSUSA increased the scholarship amount from $1,000 to $10,000 this year and announced this year’s recipients in July.

The Gold Award is the highest award a Girl Scout can earn. Only Ambassadors and Senior Girl Scouts are eligible to earn this award. Girls choose a community issue dear to them and develop a sustainable solution. They then must spend up to 80 hours planning, implementing, and sharing their project with others. 

Receiving the Gold Award scholarship “is an incredible feeling and a moment I’m very proud of,” Adison said. “I went through the hills and valleys with motivation, but I’m so happy for pushing myself to complete my project. Being recognized by GSUSA; that’s national! I feel propelled to do more because of it, and it shows me anything I put my mind to can be as successful as this.” 

 What influenced Adison’s interest in creating the website for her Gold Award project goes back to when she was a little girl. She spent a lot of time in the Harris County family courts with her mother, a family lawyer, watching court proceedings that determined the fate of foster care children. She also went on home visits with her mother, where she got a glimpse at life in foster care. 

 “When the time came to do a Gold Award project, I knew I had to do something with this,” Adison said. “I have seen kids removed from a home at 6 or 7 years old, stay in the system, and move from foster home to foster home with no stable foundation. At age 14, they lose hope and interest in the future. It makes me sad. 

 "Kids don't understand the system. I want to empower them. I knew with the website I wanted to make the system less daunting and frustrating for teens,” she said. 

 Adison had a lengthy conversation with her mother, who gave her information that helped the Girl Scout put the pieces together for her project. She capitalized on her connections within the family court system she developed over the years to bring her project to fruition. Those connections allowed her to interview family court judges, lawyers, and state Child Protective Services and Department of Family Services officials to glean additional information about the foster care system. 

 After viewing all sides of the system, Adison realized why foster teens have challenges navigating the system – information is scattered and disjointed. That is when she began laying out the framework for her website – a comprehensive, easy-to-understand, one-stop source for foster care teenagers. 

 The website includes valuable contacts, legal definitions, and information on how and where to get legal help. Also, it lists resources for post-care assistance, schooling, employment, and medical care. 

 In addition to the website, Adison created flyers with facts about the foster care system, which she posted at her school, St. Agnes Academy in Houston. 

 Adison said she could not have completed the project without help from her team of judges and lawyers, who provided information and spread the word about the website, and students from her school who helped her create the website. Her biggest supporters, she says, were family attorney Josette LeDoux and local retired Judge Mike Schneider. LeDoux served as her project mentor. Schneider has agreed to keep the website updated while she attends school. So far, her website has garnered more than 4,000 views. 

“I’m very humble about it. I never thought my project would be this much of a success,” she said. “I’m extremely moved by the thought of it spreading throughout Harris County and beyond, impacting the lives of so many young people.” 

Adison, who has also earned Girl Scout Bronze and Silver awards, will attend Emory University in the fall to study biology and pre-medicine.