Girl Scouts continue to spread message of diversity, equity and inclusion through pandemic

Fresh from learning about diversity, equity and inclusion, the girls of Girl Scout troops in Woodbridge and Carteret are reminding the public to do their part to flatten the curve of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

WOODBRIDGE – Fresh from learning about diversity, equity and inclusion, the girls of Girl Scout troops in Woodbridge and Carteret are reminding the public to do their part to flatten the curve of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“People need to stop touching stuff,” said first-grader Asha Howard, adding people need to wash their hands and wear a mask.

Madison Feige, also a first grader, shared people need to “stay home and don’t go out anywhere.”

This was the message some of the girls wanted to share with the public as they sat down for a virtual Zoom interview on May 5 with Newspaper Media Group. The girls – Asha Howard, Madison Feige, Katherine Dworak, Annabelle Dworak, Bella Wetmore, Aliyah Skeete, Natalie Haulenbeck, Christine Sanfilippo, Makenzie Castor, Mayuri Aggarwal and Beatrice Thomas – discussed their involvement in the annual World Thinking Day with the themes of diversity, equality and inclusion.

If there is a silver lining, COVID-19 has been a giant equalizer as a reminder there are many similarities irrespective of differences in race, nationality, religion, age, gender or appearance.

Although World Thinking Day was held Feb. 22 at Fords Middle School, the girls have continued to work on promoting what they learned through social media. Initially, they were going to promote what they learned in public buildings around Woodbridge Township before municipal buildings were closed.

“We were in touch with [Woodbridge] Mayor John McCormac trying to get in touch with his people to find out where would be a good spot to hang our posters,” said Marrisa Lonardo, who leads Daisy Girl Scout Troop 83670 with Karen Johnson.

McCormac mentioned the girls in his daily report about the coronavirus and on the mayor’s Facebook page.

Troop 83670 had organized three activities for World Thinking Day, a day of international friendship when Girl Guides and Girl Scouts come together with one voice to speak out on issues that affect girls and young women.

Forty-two girls from troops across the service unit participated. They made friendship bracelets, played various games including a diversity box game and an equal starbursts in cups game, created large display posters, and painted murals with large multi-color handprints to represent diversity.

“The girls that participated in the activities gained a better understanding of diversity, equality and inclusion,” said Kimberly Castor, service unit manager for Girl Scouts of Central and Southern NJ. “They passed along what they learned through their own social media, but they hope to extend their message even farther.”

The girls on the Zoom call spoke about the games they played including a diversity box game, where girls were separated into age groups and found out through questions what they had in common with each other despite their age differences.

Madison said some of the questions included if a person had a dog.

Christine, who is in fifth grade, said she was interested to find some people who liked things that she did and some people who liked the same things as other people.

Asha said she learned with diversity people may speak different, people may look different, people may be from different states, but they could all be Girl Scouts.

“We learned all people are different,” Natalie said.

First-grader Annabelle Dworak showed off her friendship bracelet that she made during the event. Sister Katherine, who is in kindergarten, said she played the box game and made handprints.

Beatrice, a freshman in high school, said she and Myuri, who is also a freshman in high school, helped the younger scouts to paint signs.

Troop 83670 hopes the public will help them share the message “as we enter our lives post-quarantine, please remember to respect one another for the experience that we shared and for the differences that we have.”

“I hope people remember not to judge one another,” fifth-grader Mackenzie said.

Beatrice agreed with her fellow scout.

“Don’t judge people based on what people may not like,” she said.

And lastly, “Be nice to everybody no matter what,” Asha said.

The girls who participated in World Thinking Day this year included Ariel Basdeo, grade three, Sofia Basdeo, grade two, Maya Figueroa, grade three, Ella Gloster, grade three, Catalina Pasiuk, grade three, Aubrey Rebnicky, grade three, Gabriella Oropesa, grade two, Moulika Saxena, grade one, Mahika Saxena, grade one, Bella Wetmore, grade two, Zaniah Anam, grade four, Zarah Cajacuri, grade four, Maryah Cummings, grade four, Elizabeth Cerbone, grade two, Raeanna Kneller, grade two, Carissa Nazario, grade one, Brynlee Smith, grade one, Reagan Smith, grade two, Makenzie Castor, grade five, Aubrey Cottrell, grade five, Natalie Haulenbeck, grade five, Beatrix Magsajo, grade five, Tiara Goodridge, grade one, Gabriela Goodridge, grade three, Allison Maiga, grade three, Maya Nached, grade one, Lorelei Robertson, grade three, Aliyah Skeete, grade three, Naylah Vassell, grade three, Shantell Alcantara, grade one, Molly Kocher, grade one, Analeah Alvarez, kindergarten, Katherine Dworak, kindergarten, Annabelle Dworak, grade one, Madison Feige, grade one, Asha Howard, grade one, Chrissa Johnson, grade one, Violet Magsajo, grade one, Dina Rahim, grade one, Mayuri Aggarwal, grade nine, Beatrice Thomas, grade nine, and Christine Sanfilippo, grade five.

Contact Kathy Chang at [email protected].