Algonquin senior earns Girl Scout Gold Award
By Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer
Northborough – On Sept. 9, Algonquin Regional High School senior Alyssa Pfannenstiel became the first Northborough resident to receive the Girl Scout Gold Award in 17 years.
“It was amazing to receive the award,” said Pfannenstiel. “There aren’t many girls who stay with Girl Scouts all the way to the end and I am very proud that I was able to earn this final award.”
After suffering a concussion on the soccer field in 2011, Pfannenstiel has worked tirelessly to inform and educate the public about the signs and symptoms of concussions, treatment options and coping strategies (http://communityadvocate.com/2013/06/20/algonquin-student-turns-an-accident-into-an-education/). A Girl Scout since kindergarten, Pfannenstiel used her situation to help earn her the Gold Award, the highest achievement in Girl Scouting.
Open only to girls in high school, this prestigious award challenges young women to change the world through a community service project. For Pfannenstiel, this meant creating the “Conquering Your Concussion” Facebook page (to educate and inspire) as well as speaking to athletic and educational groups about the realities of concussions.
Throughout the process, Pfannenstiel spoke to various athletic teams at Algonquin (girls lacrosse, girls softball and boys volleyball), the Northborough-Southborough Special Needs Parent Advisory Committee, parents and PTO at Proctor School in Northborough and members of the Northborough Baseball and Softball Association.
Pfannenstiel designed a PowerPoint presentation for her speaking engagements. She also made hundreds of “Brain Injury Awareness Ribbons” and “concussion fact sheets” which she handed out at events.
With 140 “likes” and counting, the response to Pfannenstiel's Facebook page has far exceeded her expectations.
“The Facebook page feedback has been incredible,” said Pfannenstiel. “Not only have my friends in the local community followed me, but strangers from all over the United States have been reaching out and “liking” my posts. It really makes me feel like I am making a difference when the audience becomes greater than just my town.”
Being a Girl Scout, said Pfannenstiel, has been a life changing experience.
“It has made me a leader and it has made me more confident because Girl Scouts helped push me out of my comfort zone. It gave me the opportunity to share my story and heal. Above all, Girl Scouts has given me the opportunity to make an impact on the community, sharing my personal concussion journey – something that I hold close to my heart,” she said. “Being able to work towards my Gold Award has definitely been cathartic for me and given me an opportunity to educate my community as well.”
While Pfannenstiel may have completed her community service project and received her Gold Award, her passion to educate others about the realities of concussions has not waned.
“I will continue to speak and post about concussions. Even if someone hears me speak and they never get a concussion (which I hope happens) at least they have learned the need for compassion and support based on my shared experience,” she said.
To learn more about life after a concussion, visit Alyssa's Facebook page, “Conquering Your Concussion” athttps://www.facebook.com/ConqueringYourConcussion?fref=ts.
To contact Alyssa regarding a speaking engagement, contact the Facebook page or send her an email at email@example.com.
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