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Taking Action to Knockout Diabetes: A Gold Girl Story

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Jaia White of Chattanooga dug a little deeper when her grandmother mentioned how many people she knew who had diabetes. She learned a lot and shared her findings with others and was named a 2021 Gold Award from Girl Scouts of Southern Appalachians for her project.

Gold Award Girl Scouts are high schoolers who address issues they’re passionate about by planning and implementing a project that produces lasting change in the community and beyond. It is the Girl Scouts’ highest and most prestigious honor.

“When my granny made a statement about how everyone her age has diabetes, I wondered if it was true, and if it was, how could I change this,” Jaia shared. Jaia started researching and discovered there was a lot of truth to her grandmother’s statement, and she also found common risk factors such as diet, weight, and genetic factors.

Jaia, her mom, and her sister all joined a 22-week class with the nonprofit, Bridge 2 Health & Wellness, to learn how to change habits and set goals. She led her community in several discussions about the negative effects of diabetes and how to prevent the disease and maintain good health. She also launched a website to educate the community and implemented a patch program for Girl Scouts who choose to learn about diabetes.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced her in-person classes online, but it also provided another opportunity.

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Jaia holding a Facebook Live roundtable discussion about diabetes for her project. 

“I learned how to use social media to help spread the word about what I was doing and share my information, and I interacted with viewers during an interview with my dad,” Jaia said. “I hope by sharing our information someone was made more aware to change a habit and go for regular medical checkups.”

Though her plans to be in the community were thwarted, and she couldn’t research at senior centers and a minority health fair, she was able to do a live interview online and have family and friends from other locations participate.

Jaia overcame many obstacles and learned to not get discouraged and to be flexible and persistent. She credits her advisors, parents, and friends for helping her stay on track and remain focused on the objective.

Jaia is a twin and shares the rare distinction of being named a Gold Award Girl Scout the same year as her sister, Jadyn! She also remembers her years in Girl Scouts fondly. “Every year in Girl Scouts was memorable. I have been a scout my entire life! I loved our yearly trips, especially when my mom took my sister and me to the 2017 Girl Scout Convention in Columbus, Ohio. The entire experience was great! I came back and shared our experience with my troop, then we started planning to take our troops to attend the next convention.”

Jaia was chosen as a 2020 National Delegate for the Girl Scouts of Southern Appalachians.

These days, she most enjoys spending time with her family – especially her sister, who also is her best friend – and they love to play Roblox, watch TikTok, and dance. She is a freshman at the University of Memphis pursuing a degree in psychology with the ambition to become a child psychologist or go into research to help with mental health.

Congratulations, Jaia! Visit girlscoutcsa.org to learn more about the Girl Scouts.  

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Jaia (left) and Jadyn (right)