02.27.2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 27, 2013
CONTACT: Nancy Zimmerman
Senior Director of Marketing & Communications
Girl Scout Heart of New Jersey 973-842-4232 | nzimmerman@gshnj.org

Girl Scout Heart of New Jersey Girl Scout named among Girl Scout's National Young Women of Distinction

Nikki DeSario was caught off guard when she got the phone call telling her she was one of ten girls nationwide to be honored as one of the National Young Women of Distinction. The 16 year old Montgomery High School student from the Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey Council was selected from approximately 3,000 Girl Scout Gold Award recipients in December.

To receive the title, young women, like Nikki, working toward the Girl Scout Gold Award create a project that demonstrates extraordinary leadership, has a measurable and sustainable impact and addresses a local challenge related to a national or global issue — referred to as a “take action” project.

DeSario was recognized for creating awareness and addressing the issue of relationship abuse, an issue that 1 in 3 women experience nationally. Nikki was particularly impassioned about the issue and its effect on middle and high school students. She ran a program in her local middle school educating students on dating abuse and violence in the media.

“I realized if the statistics are ever going to change, the solutions have to begin at the root of the problem. The most effective way to do this is to educate young audiences about the signs of an abusive relationship,” DeSario said.

DeSario was motivated to make her efforts sustainable and building public awareness about dating abuse and violence in the media.  DeSario worked with New Jersey legislators Linda Greenstein and Kip Bateman to champion legislation that  requires safe dating education be provided to middle and high school students as part of their health curriculum. After the law passed, she created a school club called M.A.S.K. Theater (Montgomery Advocates for Solidarity and Kindness), which takes the spirit of the new law in conjunction with an innovative creative program for students in high school.  Among other performances and events, M.A.S.K. has created PSAs, an informational DVD for other schools and has run a Girl Scout Workshop on healthy relationships and the media.

DeSario has been a Girl Scout for 13 years starting at the Daisy level and says Girl Scouts, “has given her the opportunity to be inspired, dabble in many different community issues and find her passion.”

“I will always have involvement in activism and human right issues,” she said. DeSario hopes to one day become a nurse and perhaps eventually go on to medical school. Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey applauds the success and passion behind of DeSario’s project.

DeSario and GSHNJ CEO Susan M. Brooks joined Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Anna Maria Chávez, Treasurer of the United States Rosie Rios and the other Girl Scout Gold Award recipients from around the country for a leadership breakfast on Feb. 28 in Washington, DC to celebrate women’s leadership and the second century of Girl Scouting with the launch of the 2013 Girl Scouts of the USA Centennial Sliver Dollar.

About the National Young Women of Distinction Award
A National Young Woman of Distinction is the designation, and a special honor, conferred by Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) annually on ten Girl Scout Gold Award recipients whose final projects demonstrated extraordinary leadership, had a measurable and sustainable impact, and addressed a local challenge that related to a national and/or global issue.

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