KALISPELL - The Gold Award. It’s the highest achievement a Girl Scout can earn, given to those who develop and carry out lasting solutions to issues in their communities.
Kalispell’s own Opal Besaw was recently bestowed the honor, after working to increase the inclusion of people with different abilities in mainstream society, particularly in social settings.
A third-generation Girl Scout, Besaw's main goal is to make the world a better place, “I just felt proud to be able to help people in my community."
Besaw hosted a webinar that focused on different types of abilities, focusing on efforts to increase inclusion for those often overlooked for her Gold Award project.
The webinar was recorded and posted online and shared widely on social media.
“I want people to have the opportunity to be educated and learn to accept all kinds of people for who they are,” said Besaw.
Besaw lives with a different ability called Cerebral Palsy and she knows firsthand how hard it can be when classmates look the other way.
“People with different abilities are people first and foremost and they want to have friends and social experiences and normal childhoods just like everyone else,” said Besaw.
Besaw is now working on a buddy program at Glacier High School that would pair students with different abilities with classmates throughout the school, helping foster new friendships.
“And so, I really wanted to facilitate some opportunities for those students to be able to get out and make friends and have some experiences that any typical student could have,” added Besaw.
She is looking for more students at Glacier High School to be a part of her buddy program, helping create an atmosphere of inclusion
“Because right now I have about nine life skill students signed up for the program but not enough people to buddy them with.”
Besaw dreams of becoming a children’s author and a social worker, making a difference in this world for decades to come.
“Hopefully one day we can create a society that just learns and accepts and asks questions when they need to, and really all I wanted to do was let all kinds of students know that they’re loved and seen,” said Besaw.
Glacier High School students who are interested in joining Opal's buddy program are encouraged to email her at email@example.com.
Besaw's Gold Star Award presentation can be viewed here.