Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) has declared 2012 the Year of the Girl: a celebration of girls, recognition of their leadership potential, and a commitment to creating a coalition of like-minded organizations and individuals in support of balanced leadership in the workplace and in communities across the country.1 The campaign is aimed at creating a sense of urgency to transform expectations, through heightened awareness, as the foundation for a broader, multiyear, multipronged effort to break down societal barriers that hinder girls from leading and achieving success in everything from technology and science to business and industry. In essence, GSUSA has established girls as a cause.
Celebrating this year our 100th anniversary since our beginnings in Juliette Gordon Low’s home and 18 girls in Savannah, Georgia, I, as a lifetime member of GSUSA, applaud this initiative because I believe in the value-based decision making, self-reliance, and resourcefulness that Girl Scouting teaches. But what does this have to do with healthcare?
Are these not the same principles we are striving to instill in the American population as a whole, as patient education and advocacy organizations like the National Association For Continence and others instruct in prevention and public health education, in behavioral and motivational strategies to minimize risks and improve outcomes from intervention, and in promoting patient centered efficiencies in delivery of care that improve access, effectiveness of intervention, and satisfaction?
Why then do girls matter? We girls are the health care “leaders” of our families, assuming the role as family nutritionist, nurse and caregiver, and even personal health teacher. We’re more likely to kiss a skinned knee, clean and place a bandage on a cut, or make a doctor’s appointment than those of the male gender. Research shows we’re more likely to be the family member surfing the net for health information and advice or to find an expert. And we’re more likely to share with girlfriends and female relatives what we are experiencing and what our needs are. We tweet and post to each other as if we are physically gathered around the campfire like those a generation before us.
Why can’t we all think and act like Girl Scouts as we sharpen our knowledge and understanding of our body’s needs and undertake good, daily health habits, like smoking cessation, weight loss and management, and limited alcohol use to lower controllable risks of disease and to protect our bladder and bowel health? There’s no better route to curbing our nation’s healthcare costs than by cultivating a nation of people who are their own best friend and healthcare advocate.
Regardless of your gender, add that badge to your sash!
Nancy Muller, PhD
1http://www.girlscouts.org/news/news_releases/2011/yearofthegirl.asp, accessed July 13, 2012.
Published On: July 18, 2012