Girl Scout Taya Berry earns rare Gold Award by creating communication books for non-verbal students | Latest Headlines

Brian Neben Lexington Clipper-Herald

LEXINGTON — Lexington Girl Scout Taya Berry has earned the highest achievement within the Girl Scouts USA by creating communication books for non-verbal students in the Lexington High School district.

Berry was one of 22 Girl Scouts from the Spirit of Nebraska to earn the highest award possible, the Gold Award.

The Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska stated that Berry, “created books for every STAR classroom in her school district to help facilitate communication between nonverbal students, other students, and staff.”

One of the pages from the communication books Taya Berry made for the non-verbal students in the Lexington Public School’s district.

Courtesy graphic

“It makes me feel proud to earn such a prestigious award,” Berry said, “at the same time I am giving back to the community.”

This year’s Spirit of Nebraska Gold Award Girl Scouts made meaningful, lasting change in childhood literacy, inclusivity through education, mental health awareness, women empowerment, and more,” the Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska press release stated.

“Using strategic thinking, collaboration, problem solving and time management, Gold Award Girl Scouts addressed pressing issues becoming the future leaders the world needs,” the release concluded.

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According to Girl Scouts USA, only 5.4 percent of eligible Girl Scouts earn the award. The Gold Award is often compared to the Eagle Scout in Boy Scouts of America.

Becoming eligible is no small task, one has to complete two Girl Scout Senior or Ambassador Journeys or complete one Girl Scout Senior or Ambassador Journey and have earned a Silver Award.

After this point, a Girl Scout has to plan and implement a “Take Action” project that reaches beyond the organization and provides a sustainable lasting benefit to the larger community.

It requires a minimum of 80 hours of work in planning and actually doing the project. All of these hours must be completed by the awardee, and it is encouraged that the girl uses troop members and others from the community to help her.

Plans must be developed with the aid of an advisor, then a project proposal must be submitted and approved by the girl’s local council before starting the project, and a final report submitted and approved after the project’s completion.

The Gold Award emblem is presented as a pin resembling an eight-pointed gold star with rays radiating from a central, polished trefoil. The award was originally created in 1980.

Berry’s idea was to create communication books for each different school building in the Lexington Public Schools district. She said she got the idea through babysitting several children who were non-verbal and interacting with different people through Unified Bowling and Circle of Friends.

She got to work on the project around the end of May 2021, she created eight books for all ages, they contain pictures with corresponding words, allowing non-verbal students to more effectively communicate.

The pictures display emotions, places in the school, the community and different phrases. “I want everyone to be able to communicate,” Berry said.

She said she made the books in such a way as to allow teachers to add more pages with even more phrases, pictures, etc., in the future if needed.


Taya Berry, right, presents her Gold Award project to Bryan Elementary Principal Tiffany Denker, center and Bryan teacher Kelsey Driscoll, left.

Courtesy photo

Teachers have told Berry they “really like,” the books and they are serving their intended purpose.

Berry met the 80 hour requirement for the project and was recently interviewed by judges who asked her about the project’s sustainability and local impact. They also wanted to make sure she was on the right track and that the project fit all of the parameters.

Berry said last year, “It’s pretty rare to be awarded.”


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