Ambassador Girl Scout Drew Shinozaki, 17, a senior at Palos Verdes Peninsula High School, was awarded Girl Scout of America’s highest achievement, the Gold Award, on Sept. 16.
Drew’s Gold Award project focused on developing a creative writing workshop for South Bay youths at the Wilmington Boys and Girls Club.
Drew began her scouting career in 2010 as a Brownie in Troop 7895 and bridged to Girl Scouts in a ceremony over San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge in May 2014. As a published short-story writer herself, she used her passion for writing to inspire creativity among disadvantaged middle-school children by providing a program and safe space to learn creative writing, an underrepresented method of understanding, communicating, and exploring both emotions and vulnerability.
As one who found comfort through writing, Drew wanted to show students the freedom and power that their own words, stories, and imagination can give them.
The two-week workshop focused on learning the creative writing process, world-building, and how to develop dialogue and complex characters. At the conclusion of the course, the children’s original works were compiled into an online literary magazine, Spiraling Sonder, that was shared with parents, families and friends.
Drew funded her project through cookie and nut sale proceeds, a community bake sale, and a fundraiser at a local restaurant.
Besides scouting, Drew is Co-President of PressFriends, a youth-led nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the writing and communication skills of over 400 underserved youth in the community. At school, she serves as treasurer for the National English Honor Society, and is also a member of the National Honor Society, the National French Honor Society, the California Scholarship Federation, the Principal Advisory Committee, and Literary Magazine.
Along with friends she met during an international writing program called Between The Lines: The Peace and Writing Experience, Drew has co-founded an online literary community called Aster Lit, which focuses on promoting the voices of young people around the world. Aster Lit interviews published authors who share their personal writing experiences through podcasts, literary magazines, and social media.
Drew plans to pursue an English major in college next year. She will also participate in the Girl Scouts of America Gold Award celebration to be held at a later date.