Girl Scouts of America may have a unique role in the community of Watts in South Los Angeles. The young girls with their green, brown, or blue vests may see the group as a way to make friends, but it's something different for the LAPD.
LAPD's Community Safety Program partnered up with the Housing Authority to start a Girl Scout troop at Grape Street Elementary. The Housing Authority provided funding to reduce the fees and cost of the uniform. Without that financial help, most of the families might not have signed their girls up.
Today's meeting kicked off the annual cookie drive. But before the orders from troop leaders, to sell, sell, sell, the girls recited the Girl Scout promise to be honest, fair, friendly and helpful.
Officer Emada Tingirides believes reciting that pledge every week will help guide them as they mature. And, the relationships they develop here with the other girls, the troop leaders and the police watching over them provide the kind of family structure that will keep them out of gangs. She believes that even after just one year, there is better community relations between police, parents and their children; that crime is down and reports of crime are up.
Here's a full copy of the Girl Scout promise
On my honor, I will try:
To serve God and my country,
To help people at all times,
And to live by the Girl Scout Law.
Here's a full copy of the Girl Scout Law
I will do my best to be:
Honest and fair,
Friendly and helpful,
Considerate and caring,
Courageous and strong, and
Responsible for what I say and do,
And, to respect myself and others,
Use resources wisely,
Make the world a better place and
Be a sister to every Girl Scout.
Gisela Barajas told me she was proud to be a Girl Scout. And, Layai Johnson said she likes making friends.
Right now, Troop #19785 is the only troop in Watts. But if Officer Tingirides gets her way, there will be Girl Scouts in every elementary and middle school in Watts.