Girl Scout Earns Gold Award

Project At Domestic Violence Shelter Earns Scout Honors

McKenna Armstrong, Writer

Working to help survivors of domestic violence, junior Avery McKenna has completed and achieved her Girl Scout Gold Award after building sensory walls and a garden space.

The Gold Award is a solo project completed by Girl Scouts at a high school level, a chosen accomplishment that will impact a community in a big way.

“The project was for Newhouse Domestic Violence Shelter which is a local domestic violence shelter,” McKenna said. “I worked with them to complete my Girl Scout Gold Award which was building three sensory walls for their children to use as well as planting a garden so that they could have a fresh food resource.”

Brittany Leathers, director of educational innovation at Newhouse helped work with and guide McKenna throughout the project.

     “Newhouse is Kansas City’s oldest domestic violence shelter,” Leathers said.

McKenna spent 140 hours working to build the garden and sensory walls in the shelter’s back yard space over the summer. She hoped the children would use the sensory walls as a coping mechanism for their feelings.

“With the garden, the goal was that Newhouse would have a resource for several years that might provide fresh food, ” McKenna said.

The process began by learning about the subject of domestic violence and speaking with community members to find ways that would best help the shelter.

“Avery brought the idea of the garden to me, and we both discussed the sensory walls and if she had time and resources that it would be a second project for her to work on,” Leathers said. “Avery did the bulk of the work, but she consulted with me throughout the project so we could make sure that it worked for Newhouse.”

     McKenna also partnered with Full Features, a plant nursery in Smithville, Missouri, to help with plants and parts of the garden. She also taught lessons to kids residing at the shelter.

With support from friends and family, McKenna used resources from her house and shops nearby to support the shelter in this project. Leathers said McKenna showed the value of hard work, dedication and compassion.

“I am so incredibly grateful for the work she put in to make this space so enjoyable for the clients,” Leathers said.