Girl Scouts honored with Gold Award

Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore honored 23 Girl Scouts from Monmouth and Ocean counties with the Girl Scout Gold Award on May 29 at a ceremony hosted at Branches, West Long Branch.

Young women from the area who earned the award were Annika Agarwal of Marlboro, Katrina Henriques of Marlboro, Amy Mussleman of Freehold and Valassia Antigone Theocharides of Colts Neck, according to a press release.

“Gold Award Girl Scouts are visionary leaders who will make a lasting impact,” said
Eileen M. Higgins, CEO, Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore. “Earning the Gold Award will
unlock great opportunities for these incredible girls. I will not be surprised by anything
they accomplishes in college and beyond. These girls are the next generation of leaders
developed by Girl Scouts.”

For her Gold Award project, Annika Agarwal addressed rising diabetic rates in India, the
world’s hub for diabetes. She collected more than 1,000 eyeglasses from local
businesses, along with blood pressure machines and glucose tests to measure diabetic

Annika then traveled to India and partnered with the Lions Club of Mumbai to
set up free health clinics for approximately 2,000 underprivileged residents; she also
hosted diabetes seminars while in India, distributing pamphlets and information
regarding the disease.

After seeing the number of individuals in need of surgery at her health clinics, Annika created the N.A.I.N.A. Foundation, a nonprofit organization which aims to provide medical aid for those in need. Through her nonprofit she has raised funds for more than 20 surgeries and hosted a Guinness World Record Event to raise awareness for her cause.

For her Gold Award project, Katrina Henriques created interactive toys for dogs and
cats awaiting adoption at the Monmouth County SPCA. The toys were part of a
behavior modification program designed to ease the tension and stress that animals
face while living in the shelter.

Katrina also presented workshops during which she discussed what happens to animals after they are surrendered, abandoned or seized and brought to the shelter. She created her project to prepare the animals for adoption; a higher adoption rate not only reduces overpopulation and euthanasia at the shelter, it also makes the animals healthier, happier and more suitable for integration into loving families.

For her Gold Award project, Amy Musselman created a leadership program for refugee
girls in her community. Her program, Soar, addressed the difficulties these girls face
and fosters a positive environment where they can adjust to American culture and grow
as individuals and friends. Amy is currently working with the International Rescue
Committee to help these young refugees in a multitude of different ways.

For her Gold Award project, Valassia Antigone Theocharides (or as she likes to be
called, Noni) focused on the national obesity problem by raising awareness of
convenient and manageable exercise for all individuals.

To do this, Noni created a two- day program at Holmdel Park. On the first day, people participated in a workshop highlighting healthy lifestyles, nutrition, simple first aid and basic exercises.

During the fitness walk on the second day, Noni led exercises along the trail using the activities demonstrated during the workshop. People of all ages participated in these activities and now know simple steps they can take to lead a healthier life.

Since it was first awarded in 1916, the Gold Award has gone by several different names,
including the First Class, the Curved Bar and the Gold Eaglet.

Earlier this year, Girl Scouts of the USA issued a proclamation declaring that all Girl Scout alums who earned these previous iterations would be inducted into the Gold Award Girl Scout family.

Those who qualify are encouraged to share their information with GSUSA at Those who do will receive a recognition letter from Sylvia
Acevedo, GSUSA’s CEO, as well as a Gold Award pin to wear, according to the press release.