Lakewood Ranch High senior earns Girl Scouts' highest award.
At Gene Witt Elementary School’s after-school program March 6, Brooke Martin stood before a group of 15 students and started playing Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.”
Martin, a Girl Scout and senior at Lakewood Ranch High School, led the students through a dance routine she created.
After 45 minutes of dancing, Martin explained to the students how dancing can improve their mental health.
Dancing with students was part of Martin’s Girl Scout Gold Award project, which she started in August. The Gold Award is the highest achievement for a Girl Scout. The project requires 80 hours and must make a long-lasting impact on the community.
Martin will be given the award at the Girl Scout’s Young Women of Distinction Awards Ceremony on July 12 at the Charlotte Harbor Event and Conference Center in Punta Gorda.
Martin, who has been dancing since she was 5 years old, has always had dance as an outlet to express her emotions and improve her mood when she needed it, so she thought she could use her passion to help others maintain a positive mindset.
“It’s a big issue not only in the country but here in Manatee County,” Martin said. “A lot of kids struggle with having positive mental health.”
She was inspired to do the project after seeing her classmates struggle with staying mentally healthy and knowing her cousin died by suicide.
Martin, captain of Lakewood Ranch High’s Silver Stars dance team, recruited girls on her dance team to help her when going to Gilbert W. McNeal and Gene Witt elementary schools, Sunny Daze Preschool and Freedom Village of Bradenton to teach people a dance routine and share facts about the positive impacts of dance.
She also worked with the Mini Mustang program at Lakewood Ranch High School and the Healthy Teens Coalition of Manatee County.
“It was really fun and a learning experience because it was really rewarding seeing their happy faces,” Martin said. “Everybody at the end said they had a great time doing it. It was rewarding to see that what I was doing was impacting them.”
Pam Hyatt, Martin’s project adviser, was impressed with Martin’s project and how it can impact people of all ages.
“She did a fantastic job with it,” said Hyatt, who has known Martin since she was 2. “I watched her present it to some groups, and she catches the children’s attention and stresses that you can have fun while moving. It’s good for overall well-being and mental health. I think it’s important what she did.”
While doing research for her project, Martin learned that dancing can help improve memory loss in the elderly, reduce stress and encourage people to socialize.
“It’s helpful taking something I know and using it as something different,” she said. “I would dance at school and at competitions, but using it to do something beneficial is inspiring.”
Martin has been a member of the Girl Scouts since she was 6 years old and a Daisy, the youngest group of Girl Scouts.
She’s been a member of five different troops as a result of her family’s moves and due to troops disbanding.
No matter the changes in her troop status, she has always pushed through.
“Getting my Gold Award is really prestigious, so I’m very honored,” she said.
Hyatt is proud of Martin for her dedication to the organization.
“With all the social pressures, it’s very hard to stay in Girl Scouts these days,” Hyatt said. “She’s so organized, dedicated and structured. She’s a motivator.”