During a difficult year, three girls from Troop 5325, which meets at the Venice Hongwanji Buddhist Temple, persevered to earn the Gold Award, the highest award in Girl Scouting.

Ashley Kaneshiro, Sayla Miyoshi and Nicole Parker were honored for their achievements during the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles Gold Award ceremony on June 13. The awardees each completed a project of at least 80 hours that created a lasting change in their community.

For her project, Ashley Kaneshiro chose to educate youth on the history of the Japanese American basketball leagues and to promote sportsmanship amongst the players. Ashley worked with the West L.A. Youth Club and Allison Taka from the Nikkei Basketball Heritage Association to create a presentation and workbook to educate players. She also interviewed former players and knowledgeable community members such as Rafu Shimpo’s Mickey Komai to gather their insights and remembrances. Ashley held virtual meetings with JAO teams to present the information. Her goal was to teach the youth players of today the values that the JA basketball leagues were founded on.

Sayla Miyoshi, a four-year member of the Venice High School sports medicine team, chose to help high school athletes who may need athletic training resources during the pandemic. Sayla realized that with schools being closed, many athletes were left to train on their own without access to coaches or athletic trainers. Under the guidance of Kirsten Farrell, a Venice High School teacher and certified athletic trainer, Sayla held virtual workshops for student-athletes on injury prevention and basic first aid. She also used her curriculum to create a series of videos for student-athletes to refer to in the future. Through her efforts, Sayla was able to provide resources to over 100 student-athletes.

Nicole Parker used a trip to Fukushima as inspiration for her Gold Award project. As a high school delegate to Japan, Nicole saw first-hand the aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima earthquake and nuclear disaster. There she learned that the students in Fukushima had one wish: to spread the message that Fukushima and its residents aren’t contaminated because of the radiation fallout. In response, Nicole created a workshop to educate students at Culver City Middle School about the Fukushima disaster and about the resulting discrimination residents face. Nicole and her community partner, the Japan America Society of Southern California, hoped to promote the resilience of Japan and teach children to become active global citizens.

For more information about their projects, email girlscouttroop5325@gmail.com. To join or volunteer for Girl Scouts, visit girlscoutsla.org.

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