By Victoria Sovran
For the News-Gazette
Jacklyn Dougherty is casting a bright light on one of the Sunshine State’s most burning issues.
The 15-year-old Osceola High School student and member of Girl Scout Troop 581 recently earned the Girl Scout Gold Award. It is the highest and most prestigious award in the Girl Scout organization. Dougherty’s Gold Award project was “Skin Cancer Awareness and Protection.”
“I am proud to be a part of a group of women changing the world and to be among a
century of women whom have achieved their Girl Scout Gold Award,” said Dougherty.
Comparable to the Eagle Scout Award of the Boy Scouts of America, the Girl Scout’s Gold Award is the most difficult to earn. It requires an intense amount of time, planning and hard work in helping to solve a problem affecting the community.
Dougherty created Pink Ladybug, a nonprofit advocating for sun safety. She became impassioned to educate her peers about sun safety and the dangers of skin cancer after her grandfather was diagnosed with skin cancer and underwent multiple surgeries.
“Skin Cancer does not focus on a skin tone,” said Dougherty. “Anyone can get it. Everyone should protect themselves from the sun and encourage others too.”
As part of her project, Dougherty gave educational speeches at Main Street High School, the Boys and Girls Club, St. John Vianney Youth Group and LA Fitness about sun safety. She created over 600 educational sun kits to distribute to local schools and organizations. The kits contained sun safety essentials including sun screen, lip balm, sunglasses, skin cancer educational cards and more. Dougherty taught a younger Girl Scout troop how to make the sun kits.
Dougherty built a website to help further spread her sun safety campaign, www.PinkLadybug.org. “I came up with the hashtag #knowyourbody,” said Dougherty. “The hashtag reminds my peers to check their bodies from head to toes for moles and to report any changes or new growths to their parents and dermatologist.”
Skin cancer can be preventable with the proper protection like using sunscreen and wearing protective clothing. “It is the burn at a young age that causes skin cancer later in life,” said Dougherty. “Parents should protect their young children from the sun. It is very important young people protect their skin now, so they don’t have skin damage later on.”
Dougherty has big plans for the future of Pink Ladybug. She hopes to be able to bring her nonprofit to the national stage and continue spreading awareness to teens and children. Her positive attitude and can-do spirit serve as inspiration to all those around her.
“I hope that young girls understand they can accomplish anything they work hard on,” said Dougherty. “My Gold Award helped me develop skills that I will use the rest of my life. I hope young girls are empowered by Pink Ladybug. First to protect themselves from the sun and second to go after their own dreams, work through obstacles, refuse to give up and create it.”