Two Local Girl Scouts Honored as 2016 “National Young Women of Distinction”

leyna-ayanaEach year, Girl Scouts of the USA confers special honors on ten young women who personify the organization’s goal of building girls of courage, confidence and character. Chosen from among recipients of the Girl Scout Gold Award nation’s 112 Girl Scout councils, these ladies are recognized as “National Young Women of Distinction.” Their Gold Award projects demonstrated extraordinary leadership, and the recipients themselves represent the best and brightest young women in Girl Scouting.

For the first time, two of the ten 2016 National Young Women of Distinction are from a single council–GSHCC! Congratulations to Ayana Watkins and Leyna Reynolds in earning this prestigious honor!

Meet Ayana Watkins

Ayana planned and executed a symposium for 200 underserved Sacramento youth entitled “Education Matters in Black Lives,” to address the issue of the academic Achievement Gap and the need for educational support to ensure the success of African American youth.

Her symposium included a collegiate panel of students of color and a YouTube channel that carried her message on a digital platform. Ayana believes that education is an antidote to poverty and social injustice. Through the successful implementation of her Girl Scout Gold Award project, Ayana has made a difference in her community and changed the world through education. She says that one highlight of her project was reading the evaluations after the symposium. One person wrote, ‘I didn’t think I could go to college, but now I want to.” She says, “My project inspired at least one of my peers to get an education that will benefit them later in life.”

Ayana is a senior at Christian Brothers High School in Sacramento.

Meet Leyna Reynolds

Leyna addressed the problem of novice drivers’ need to practice their driving skills and the increased number of accidents that occur due to the fact that other drivers on the road are unaware that these novice drivers lack experience.

Her solution was to design, create and distribute “Student Driver” decals that let other drivers know they have a novice behind the wheel.These decals are designed to help improve teens’ driving experience and reduce accidents on California roadways. Leyna created the decals and distributed them through a teen driver advocacy group (Impact Teen Driver) and at local driving schools and insurance companies. She worked with California Assembly Member Kansen Chu (D-San Jose), who introduced Assembly Bill 2322 to make these decals available to all permit holders while they practice their skills. AB 2322 passed the Assembly Transportation on a unanimous, bipartisan vote. She has been able to testify before the California Legislature in support of AB 2322 and my project was featured in numerous publications including the Sacramento Bee, as well on the evening news with ABC News 10 and CBS Evening News on Channel 13.  

Leyna is a senior at C.K. McClatchy High School in Sacramento.

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