Scouts Earn Top Honors

April 12, 2023

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

 Though senior Brandon Kelly began Cub Scouts in second grade, years later he was still involved in the program. 


Girl Scout Earns Gold Award

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.

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Boy Scout Earns Eagle Scout Award


 Though senior Brandon Kelly began Cub Scouts in second grade, years later he was still involved in the program. 

     “I saw a bunch of other kids doing it, so I thought it’d be fun,” Kelly said. “I kept going because I enjoyed doing all the campouts and all the fun stuff that came along with it.”

     Kelly had two former Eagle Scout projects that fell through but landed on an idea that worked the third time. He chose to build a composting bin for Pharis Farm Historical Site in Liberty, Missouri. The project had certain requirements set for Scouts. 

     “The requirement said you have to plan and lead a service project dedicated to helping the community,” Kelly said. “So I went out there and helped and I built the project.” 

     Kelly had to put preparation into his project. Not only did he have to physically assemble the composting bin, he also had to do necessary paperwork and obtain permits. However, with construction he received support from woodworking teacher Aaron Dalton. 

     “He was the one that helped me figure out how exactly my project would fit together as well as what aspects would work and what aspects wouldn’t,” Kelly said. 

     Kelly built the compost bin on the site and said it was intended to help with maintenance of the grounds, though it had other purposes as well. 

     “It has helped with maintaining the grounds and the areas there,” Kelly said. “It’s also being used as an education material for middle schoolers.” 

     Kelly said that he felt a sense of accomplishment in the completion of this project, as he has seen the project benefit the community. 

     “I’ve seen a lot about it in the last few weeks,” Kelly said. “They’ve been using it quite a bit.“


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