Girl Scout fun patches once focused exclusively on traditional activities like crafts, cookies and camping. Today, patch themes have expanded into civics education, teaching future voters how to be smarter and more engaged citizens.

Draw the Lines PA and the Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania have collaborated to develop girl scouting’s first fun patch dedicated to understanding voting, election district mapping and Pennsylvania geography.

The goal is to encourage young people to learn about voting and elections and develop computer and civics skills. Girl Scouts in participating troops will complete age-appropriate civics-related activities for the six levels of girl scouting. Girl Scouts are then awarded their fun patch, which features an outline of the map of the Commonwealth.

Last month 12 Girl Scouts, ages 6 to 13, who belong to Girl Scout Troop # 50605 in Covington Township, Lackawanna County were the first to try their hand at drawing their “Personal PA” maps, and they wrote letters to officials about issues that mattered to them, like bullying, littering and length of lunch periods.

“The Girl Scouts had a great time with all of the activities and are looking forward to getting their Draw the Lines fun patches to sew on their sashes,” said troop leader Danielle Brazen. “The parents were really impressed with all that we did during the meeting and how engaged the kids were; they loved the program. We would definitely be happy to work with Draw the Lines again in the future.”

The year 2020 is especially important to all Americans, including future voters, with the presidential election and the U.S. Census, which determines Congressional representation in the states. It also is the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment that gave women the right to vote.

“Part of the Girl Scouts’ mission is prepare girls and young women for adult responsibilities and being prepared to participate in civic life is a vital part of our democracy,” said Janet Donovan, CEO of the Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania, which covers 30 central PA counties. “Draw the Lines fits in perfectly with our council’s emphasis on innovation.”

The set of activities invites Girl Scouts to understand how voting works in the United States and, for older girls, the role gerrymandering plays in the election process.

For younger Girl Scouts, activities are designed to help them think about how decisions get made by groups, learn about the communities where they live and issues they care about, as well as solutions to public policy challenges, and communicating in writing to appropriate public officials.

For older Girl Scouts there are activities to help them understand voting and legislative redistricting and also how to raise their voices and constructively express their opinions.

“Draw the Lines is thrilled to be represented in the Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania’s new fun patch,” said David Thornburgh, CEO of the Committee of 70, which hosts Draw the Lines PA. “There is no age threshold to becoming an engaged citizen and learning about the importance of elections, voting and redistricting is a great first step.”

Girl Scouts age 13 and over are invited to compete in the Draw the Lines statewide election district mapping contest and win up to $5,000 in cash prizes. Draw the Lines has since its inception last year awarded $100,000 in prizes to high school students, college students and adults. The deadline for round four of the contest is May 28.

Draw the Lines PA is a nonpartisan citizen engagement project of the Committee of Seventy, a Philadelphia-based good government group. Seventy’s CEO David Thornburgh, served as chairman of the Redistricting Reform Commission, which last fall released its comprehensive report detailing how the Commonwealth could involve voters more effectively in creating election maps.

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