I moved to Kanab, Utah, in 2015, from California, where I had been in the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles since I was five years old. I was inspired to make a change in my community for my Gold Award because the extracurricular activities available for kids are limited considering the small amount of residents in Kanab.

I noticed the theater club was looked down upon from the sports teams at Kanab High. The idea was only the unusual/unpopular kids were involved with theater. I have tried recruiting many of my fellow classmates without any luck because they did not think cool kids could like theater too. When my mother, JoAnn Clarkson Michelsen, grew up in Kanab, she participated in the extremely competitive Performing Arts program at the local high school, along with being a Larriette and basketball player.

Since moving here, I have noticed the theater program is sorely lacking in participation from my peers. I have been inspired to help raise awareness about how much fun theater can be when more people get involved. Because the amazing theater program that once was here has fallen into the shadows, I want to reach out to kids and teach them theater is fun and spark an interest in the community. I have been reaching out to kids, ages six-16, to bring them to the theater. This was the logic for my plan. I want to create a better future for the high school theater program and the kids who will soon be attending the high school.

This project has been in the making since February this year. I needed to find an issue and form a plan to combat the issue. Then I needed to submit my Project Proposal to the Girl Scouts of Utah Council members for review and feedback. After reevaluating my plan, I had an interview with the council and was approved to begin my project. I had to find a project advisor (mentor), have 80 hours of work recorded, and check in with my committee member before my project was finished. I am at the end of my project and just adding some finishing touches before I submit my final report to the council and have a final presentation. With such a strenuous process to receive the award, only 5.4 percent of eligible Girl Scouts successfully earn the Gold Award.

The Golden Eagle of Merit, the highest award in Girl Scouting from 1916 to 1979, marked the beginning of a long tradition of recognizing girls who make a difference in their communities with a prestigious award. The name has been changed to the Gold Award since 1980, but the meaning stays the same. The Gold Award represents the highest achievement in Girl Scouting, recognizing girls who demonstrate extraordinary leadership through remarkable Take Action projects that have sustainable impact in their communities and beyond. To see more about a Gold Award project, go to https://www.girlscouts.org/gogoldonline/.

My 15-second pitch follows along with a short explanation: “All The World’s a Stage – And YOU should be On It! Come learn to be an actor, performer or movie star. Would you choose to be Belle from Beauty and the Beast or Han Solo from Star Wars? Do you want to climb mountains or fight dragons? What would it feel like to drive a racecar or find your true love? Get ready to hear those exciting words, “Lights! Camera! Action!” If books have the ability to transport you to a different time and place, then the theater gets you living that scene. I have been there and would like to share how it feels to be anyone you want to be through makeup, costumes, character development, props, and speaking parts.”

During my project, I reached out to many people from my community like Mariah Wheeler. I had never talked to her before, but I ended up asking her to be my project advisor. She was a tremendous help in giving me insight on her already existing program, “Stages Musical Theater Camp.”

My main goal was to prove theater is fun for anyone and everyone involved. Even young people like theater. You do not have to be a Broadway geek to appreciate awesome costumes and the cool characters you get to become. To reach my goal, I helped teach “Stages” for kids ages six-16; one session in Kanab and one in Orderville, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., for three days each. Mariah Wheeler and Jenna Corry have run this camp by themselves for a few years, but I wanted to help with it for my project.

Often kids will quit things like theater and music because they are afraid it is too nerdy and they will be made fun of in high school. I wanted to show them that I am a 17-year-old teenager, and I think theater is one of the coolest things out there. After all, the careers in the performing arts industry allow people to be anyone they want with the magic of the stage: props, costumes, accents, etc. These people not only get to “play” all day as adults, they get paid for it! I shared this secret with the kids in the camp to inspire them to continue their musical theater careers because there are so many amazing opportunities available.

I also created a website for Stages so more people would be aware of the program in my community! Please see www.stagesofsummer.com for pictures and information on my project, along with the camp information. Featured on my website is a Youth Theater Program Outline free to anyone interested in teaching the amazing art of theater in their community.

Hopefully this shows I have tried to make an impact, not only in the lives of the children I have taught, but the community as well. I hope to increase awareness and involvement in the theater program because of my project, and those in the world who use my outline to teach and influence others.