Girl Scout Gold Award Project promotes reading and learning

 
Daily Herald staff report
Posted8/2/2018 12:06 PM
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  • Sofia Coury, 15, and her Girl Scout Gold Award adviser Libertyville Township Supervisor Kathleen O'Connor look over a book that will be included in a Reading Gear Literacy Kit.

    Sofia Coury, 15, and her Girl Scout Gold Award adviser Libertyville Township Supervisor Kathleen O'Connor look over a book that will be included in a Reading Gear Literacy Kit. Courtesy of Ellen Coury

  • Sofia Coury of Libertyville with some of Reading Gear Literacy Kits she put together for local students as part of her Girl Scouts Gold Award.

    Sofia Coury of Libertyville with some of Reading Gear Literacy Kits she put together for local students as part of her Girl Scouts Gold Award. Courtesy of Ellen Coury

Sofia Coury, 15, of Libertyville, a sophomore-to-be at Carmel Catholic High School, recently rolled out her Gold Award Project at the Libertyville Township food pantry.

The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest achievement in Girl Scouts, similar to the Eagle Scout Award in Boy Scouts. Coury is a member of Libertyville Troop 40407.

She created, organized and managed a project to create 80 Reading Gear Literacy Kits for specific grades containing a book, a dictionary, an artful pen, stickers, bookmarks, and associated material such as a game that helps with comprehension and activities that help improve literacy. The younger kids received a stuffed animal with their book and the older ones got a journal which will help the child think, communicate, and solve problems leading to increased success in school.

Also included in the kit is a list of resources for the parents listing useful websites, information about free days at local museums and zoos and cool stuff available at the Cook Park library.

"I created this project because I love reading and I enjoy helping kids who are not as fortunate as I am," she said. Reading, she added, can help take people places figuratively and literally by opening doors in education and in life.

She was helped along the way by her adviser, Libertyville Township Supervisor Kathleen O'Connor; Janie Paglini, a speech pathologist and reading specialist in Libertyville Elementary District 70; and, Bob Zamor of Libertyville Sunrise Rotary, who has been a strong supporter of the troop. Zamor helped Sofia obtain a $1,500 grant from the Sunrise Rotary to make this project possible.

This Gold Award Project has allowed Coury to continue her passion for getting kids excited about reading and helping the underprivileged.

At age 10, instead of birthday presents she asked her friends to donate good books so she could donate them to Bernie's Book Bank, where she volunteered.

The next year, she asked friends to donate school supplies to be distributed at the township food pantry and she and her Girl Scout troop created school supply kits for the food pantry patrons.

Two years ago Sofia worked with her troop to create reading carts at Forrestal School in North Chicago. The "Forrestal Reading Ride" travels to each classroom where Girl Scouts read from a book on the cart. The hope was to encourage children to read and to get good books in the hands of those who did not always have easy access to them.

The Forrestal experience spawned the idea of Reading Gear Literacy Kits to help kids closer to home.

She has been an alter server since fifth grade at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Libertyville. At Carmel, she is a straight-A student and plays tennis and soccer.

She currently is on a mission trip with St. Joseph Catholic Church in Harlan, Kentucky, installing insulation in a basement and working with the team to better the lives of the needy there.

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