While many are aware of the Eagle Scout award for Boy Scouts, few are aware of the Girl Scout Gold Award. The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest and most prestigious award in Girl Scouting and is awarded to fewer than 6% of Girl Scouts annually in the US. Each Gold Award Girl Scout typically spends 1 – 2 years on her project. The project encourages girls to “change their corner of the world—and beyond”.
Bernardsville resident Caroline Leanza saw something in her corner of the world and decided to improve it. Caroline is a junior at Bernards High School and a member of Girl Scout Troop 60088. The troop, led by Mrs. Regina Cavaliere, is where Caroline began as a Daisy Scout nearly 11 years ago. The Gold Award is the culmination of her scouting experience and Caroline has been working on her project for more than 18 months.
For her Gold Award project, Caroline chose to work with Mane Stream located in Oldwick. The Mane Stream mission is to improve the quality of life for individuals with special needs through a diverse program of adaptive riding and equine assisted therapies.
An avid equestrian, Caroline began volunteering at Mane Stream’s summer camp a few years ago. She worked with individuals with a variety of special needs who were participating in adaptive riding lessons. With horses and an instructor, adaptive riding benefits the participants with increased confidence, core strength, independence, socialization and team building. At the same time, the participant learns horsemanship and riding skills. While volunteering at camp, Caroline noticed a shed in much need of repair near the facility’s upper riding ring where adaptive riding instruction takes place. The shed was mainly used for storage of odds and ends, but was in need of restoration and purpose.
Caroline learned that adaptive riding employs a variety of equipment during lessons. She saw an opportunity to transform this shed into a useful “toolbox” for the instructors. Rather than trekking back to the main barn, instructors would have a re-built, neatly organized place to store equipment. Lessons would be more efficient and riders would have more time to enjoy the experience on their horse.
Caroline launched a plan to restore the shed’s structural integrity and interior functionality. She assembled a team including NVG Construction in Sussex NJ to replace the roof of the shed. She recruited her Dad to assist her in replacing rotted boards, installing corner bead, caulking, and repainting the shed. Thanks to donations from Ricciardi Brothers paint in Morristown, NJ, Caroline and her dad were able to restore the shed’s aesthetic appeal. Caroline obtained donations from local riding retailers (including Horseman’s Outlet in Lebanon, NJ) for hooks and other supplies to organize the interior.
After nearly 100 hours, the shed at Mane Stream’s upper riding ring is now fully functioning. Instructors report how it has improved their ability to do their work. One instructor commented that “the tack shed is now organized and helps us be more efficient in our lessons”. Caroline hopes that her work will continue to make an impact at Mane Stream’s “corner of the world” in Oldwick. “I’m so gratified by the work I did in rehabilitating this shed. I know that it’s helping Mane Stream instructors and their participants make strides toward their goals. More importantly, I hope my project will bring more awareness to Mane Stream, so others can experience the wonders of adaptive riding and equine assisted therapy.”
Thank you Caroline!