Girl Scout creates fourth grade nutrition workshop
From now on, Our Lady of Fatima School in Wilton will hold a three-day nutrition workshop every year for fourth graders, thanks to Wiltonian and Girl Scout Cecilia Babchak, who designed the workshop for her Gold Award last year.
“The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest achievement in all of Girl Scouting and it would be compared to the Boy Scout Eagle Scout Award,” Cecilia said.
“Basically, you identify an issue in your community and then develop a take-action project to solve that issue that will carry on for years to come.”
Cecilia interviewed people in Wilton and surrounding towns to find an issue to address for her project.
“I found that an issue was malnutrition in kids,” she said, “and I decided to create a threeday workshop that will be incorporated into the Our Lady of Fatima fourth grade science curriculum.”
Cecilia said she worked on her Gold Award project for the majority of her senior year in high school and completed it in May 2015.
At that point, she had committed more than 100 hours to the project and held the first workshop at Our Lady of Fatima June 10-12.
“I wanted them to learn the food groups and how to read nutrition labels,” said Cecilia, who went over MyPlate, which illustrates the five food groups.
She also taught the fourth graders the difference between good and bad sugars, hydration, the benefits of different foods, and proportions.
“I made lesson plans, gave out homework assignments, did demonstrations, and at the end of the three-day workshop, the children were assigned to bring in a recipe of a healthy snack that they like to eat at home,” said Cecilia.
With the recipes, Cecilia made cookbooks for the students, in which she also incorporated lessons they had learned.
“The cookbooks were a fun way to share the recipes and connect families,” said Cecilia. “The kids could share it with their families and get them thinking about malnutrition.”
Cecilia said one of her favorite parts about the project was seeing the students’ involvement and their reactions during the workshop demonstrations.
“For one of the demonstrations, I brought an empty cup and a scale and showed the kids what a gram of sugar looked like. Then I had them guess how much sugar is in a sugary drink like a Frappuccino,” she said.
“They filled the cup up with how much sugar they expected to be in a Frappuccino and they filled it up like a fourth of what it should have been. When I showed them the real amount, they were shocked.”
When Cecilia heard the students talk about the demonstrations after the lessons, she said, “it was the coolest thing to know that I was making an impact.”
The Girl Scout Gold Award is supposed to be an ongoing and long-lasting project, said Cecilia, so she talked to the fourth grade science teacher at Our Lady of Fatima, who agreed to incorporate it into her yearly curriculum from now on.
Cecilia said the Gold Award is not just an individual project.
“I had a team working with me to help me complete it,” she said. “Members of my troop helped type up recipes and bind the cookbooks together and I met with people in the community to incorporate them into my project.”
She worked closely with eighth grade teacher Geri Galasso and middle school religion teacher Kathleen Rooney.
“Those were my ‘insiders’ at Our Lady of Fatima,” she said. “They were a big help.”
Cecilia also sat down with local nutritionist Pamela Lillis, who helped her with “the nitty-gritty stuff” and taught her a lot about nutrition.
“I also benefited from this project. I wasn’t a professional when it comes to nutrition, but through this project, I learned so much and I feel like I have strengthened not only the community, but I’ve also strengthened myself,” she said.
Cecilia said she also thanks her mentors Donna Stupak and Paula Fromm for helping guide her project in the right direction.
Cecilia, a 2015 Wilton High School graduate and current advertising major at the University of Colorado, Boulder, said the Gold Award is her “most proud accomplishment thus far in life.”
“I feel as though Girl Scouts is such an important thing and I think that the Gold Award is my final — everything,” she said.
“I’ve been in Girl Scouts since kindergarten and I feel like the Gold Award is everything I’ve learned in Girl Scouts put together. It’s taught me so much."
Cecilia, a lifetime member of Girl Scouts of America, said she applied all the lessons she's learned in Girl Scouts to her Gold Award project.
"It’s just so empowering,” she said. "I feel like such a leader for making a difference and putting out something that’s long-lasting and important.”
Cecilia said her project demonstrates “what Girl Scouts is all about, what it can do and how amazing it is.”
“It’s taught me how to be a leader, how to be independent, set goals and efficiently achieve them,” she said. “Without Girl Scouts, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.”
Click here to learn more about the Girl Scout Gold Award.