Having been a Girl Scout since kindergarten, Miranda Hernandez ‘17 always assumed she’d apply for the Girl Scouts Gold Award someday. The Gold Award is the highest achievement a Girl Scout can attain, with only 5.4% of eligible Girl Scouts successfully earning it.
A Gold Award project proposal must be something that is a local and global issue, and it must have an impact that extends beyond you. So Miranda, who will be attending Regis College in Boston to play basketball and study neuroscience, chose a topic that is both a personal and academic interest: concussions.
“It’s so interesting, but the fact (is) that most people don’t know much about (concussions),” she said. “That was something I realized when I was doing my project.”
Miranda’s project focused on educating the public about the dangers of concussions in youth sports. She held six, three-hour sessions with parents, coaches and athletes, where she talked about warning signs, symptoms, and the importance of recovery times. She also created a YouTube channel so her research can be available to the global community at any time. She estimates she’s put about 250 hours into her project.
Her topic is especially relevant as researchers are just starting to understand the long-term effects of concussions, and who might be more susceptible to experiencing one: a recent study found that high school female athletes are 12% more likely to suffer a concussion than their male counterparts. In fact, girls’ soccer, girls’ volleyball and girls’ basketball all had higher rates of concussion than boys’ football.
This is why Miranda’s target group included coaches for any youth sport. “Coaches are the last line of defense for athletes,” Miranda told the San-Diego Union Tribune. “They need to know the signs of a concussion so they won’t put a player in despite the player saying they’re fine to play.”
Miranda’s project is already garnering lots of attention. She was invited to speak at the 2017 Girl Scouts Cool Women luncheon on April 4, and was invited to talk to 4th graders at a local school. “They wanted me to come and talk about Regis and concussions,” Miranda said. “Then a little girl wanted to write an article about me in National Geographic Kids, which was really cute.” Her and her new, young friend are pictured above.
Miranda hopes her research will continue to help young athletes and coaches in the years to come. She’s also hoping to continue studying sports safety in college.
To learn more about concussions, check out Miranda’s YouTube channel.