On April 20, a local Maumelle 10th grade girl received the highest honor awarded in Girl Scouting — the Girl Scout Gold Award. Emily Darnell, 15, of Maumelle was one of thirteen girls from the Girl Scouts — Diamonds of Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas’ jurisdiction honored at the Diamonds Council’s Annual Recognition Ceremony Luncheon, held at the Grand Masonic Lodge, Albert Pike Scottish Rite Temple in Little Rock.

Girl Scout Gold Award recipients are an elite group of girls. Annually, only approximately 5% of eligible Girl Scouts earn this award. The Girl Scout Gold Award requires Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts (grades 9-12) to dedicate a minimum of two years to complete all requirements, according to Jennifer Bickers, a spokesman for the organization. With the Girl Scout Leadership Experience at its core, the Girl Scout Gold Award challenges girls to identify issues about which they care deeply and plan and execute a Take Action Project that will leave a lasting impact on the benefiting community.

Emily focused her project on meeting the therapy needs of special education students at England Elementary School. Due to a lack of available space, children with special education needs at England Elementary School were not able to receive therapy as often as needed. Emily’s project established a permanent therapy room at the school so that the therapists now have a place to work with children every day, instead of once or twice per week, as they were able to do before. Emily’s project helped purchase equipment designed to help children with special needs and she organized the therapy room into activity stations.

Emily’s adviser is Elizabeth Wilson, of Maumelle who works as an occupational therapist in the England schools. She made Emily aware of the need for a permanent therapy room for the occupational and physical therapist.

Wilson said Emily loves children and wanted to do a project that benefited children. Emily plans to get teaching or therapy degree in college.

Emily, who is home-schooled, plans to start taking college classes while she finishes high school and then go on to attend college to become an occupational therapist or teacher, as well as, continue volunteering in her community. Emily is the daughter of Dan and Jane Darnell and has been a Girl Scout for nine years.

In addition to achieving the highest honor in Girl Scouting, a girl who has earned her Gold Award can immediately advance one rank in any of the United States Armed Forces branches. Special scholarships are also available for Girl Scout Gold Award recipients who meet certain criteria, Bickers said.

The Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas Diamonds Girl Scout organization serves more than 9,000 girls and 3,700 volunteers and encompasses all counties in Arkansas except Crittenden, includes Adair, LeFlore and Sequoyah counties in Oklahoma as well as Bowie and Cass counties in Texas. Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place, Bickers said.