The Examiner

Girl Scout Dedicates Gold Award Project to Social-Emotional Health

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Cate Coffino, who will be entering her senior year at Horace Greeley High School this fall, completed her Girl Scout Gold Award project by starting a support group at school to help other girls.

Almost anyone who has spent more than a few days in high school knows those years can be fraught with stress and anxiety.

For rising Horace Greely High School senior Cate Coffino, she wanted to find a way to gear her Girl Scout Gold Award project toward helping girls at her school deal with the pressures and what can be a suffocating environment.

“Everyone already goes through some sort of anxiety when they go through high school, whether it be social anxiety, dealing with friendships or school stress or trying to reach grades to get into that perfect college,” she said.

As part of her project Coffino established a support group for female students at Greeley called For Girls By Girls. The support group’s members meet as a club on days when the school’s clubs are scheduled to meet and to help build a community of trust for girls, she said.

For her project, Coffino, spoke with Dr. Richard Catanazaro, the chief of psychiatry at Northern Westchester Hospital, and her guidance counselor, Annalise Curtin. She wanted to reach out to younger high school girls, preferably in their freshman year before they encounter too many of the stresses that can occur at school.

“I created this project not to cure depression or to cure anxiety or bring down suicide rates,” Coffino said. “I created it to really stop the problem before it begins. It’s really being able to process your emotions before going further into high school and before it becomes a bad habit.”

The group had four meetings via Zoom during the latter stages of the 2019-20 school year. Topics revolved around school stress and how COVID-19 has been affecting their lives. There were just a few girls in the meetings, and early on the participants were slow to open up as everyone was growing accustomed with one another.

But Coffino said as the meetings progressed, some of those natural barriers began to dissipate. The sessions were also attended by Curtin.

It was apparent to Coffino that when she started working on the project how much was lacking in helping students deal with the social and emotional issues connected with high school. She also wasn’t discouraged by the low turnout, preferring to start small.

“Even though it was maybe two or three girls that showed up to the meeting, I was still helping two or three girls who could go to their friends and talk to their two or three friends,” she said. “I believe this project can have a butterfly effect. Even bringing it to a few girls suffering or dealing with problems going on at home or with friends, I find that’s really important because I know how important it is to me to talk about my problems.”

Undertaking the project to launch For Girls By Girls, has also helped Coffino – and not just to achieve her Gold Award, which she completed early last week. One of the issues that Coffino has stressed over was what she was planning to major in when she reached college, even though she still has another year of high school to complete.

Now, there’s the possibility that the project has given her the drive to possibly study mental health and work in the field in some capacity.

“I could never find my passion before I started working on this project,” Coffino said.

Coffino joined Girl Scouts when she was in kindergarten and has stuck with it even as many of her peers moved on to other pursuits by the time they reached middle school. She credited her best friend’s mother who was a troop leader, which made it easy to continue.

And it was Girl Scouts that helped reinforce how critical it is to help others.

“I’ve always had a passion for helping people and Girl Scouts has really emphasized that,” Coffino said.

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