Inspired by Crossover Yoga Project’s participant’s stories, 14-year-old Julia Lucarelli has been awarded the Girl Scout Silver Award for implementing a project that brings hope, positivity and encouragement to girls less fortunate than herself.
This past November Julia L was one of the 208 Girl Scouts awarded the Silver Award – the highest honor a Girl Scout Cadette can earn. Her project was entitled “Peace, Love and Positivity” and was dedicated to creating uplifting messages for participants of the Crossover Yoga Project. The inspiring messages come hand-drawn on brightly colored cards covered in flowers, hearts and rainbows, created in Julia’s free time and with her fellow Cadettes during their Briarcliff Manor Girl Scout Troop 2005 weekly meetings.
Cards contained messages such as
- “Make today so great that yesterday gets jealous.”
- “Never Give Up”
“The goal is to make them smile,” says Julia.
Crossover Yoga Project (CYP) is a non-profit organization that brings a trauma-informed yoga, mindful and art therapy curriculum to teenage girls who have been abused, sexually trafficked or in and out of the juvenile justice system throughout their lives. The organization teaches them how to care for themselves, to cope and recover from traumatic experiences, and inspire others.
Julia first learned about CYP when it was a recipient of Briarcliff’s Girl Scout troops’ annual gift drive and wrap last year and CYP founder Elisha Simpson visited the troops to thank them. She told them about the girls who would receive the presents – teenagers with traumatic pasts who show up to their yoga mats every week; some sit there with hoods pulled up tight over their heads, others try out the stretches and listen to the message, and a few stay quiet in the back but leave the most renewed, having heard the messages to never let their pasts define them. Elisha explained to the young girl scouts about the challenges her yogis have faced, the odds they’ve overcome and how they ended up participating in CYP, which is through various channels created to support at-risk teens.
“It really spoke to me because the girls are around my age and I just never knew how underprivileged my peers could be,” Julia said. “It really made me realize how fortunate I am and want to share some type of positivity with people who didn’t have that in their lives.”
Julia saved some of her birthday gift money to buy supplies and started creating small posters and writing “notes of positivity.” Then she recruited other Girl Scouts and friends to join her. She received further inspiration when she suffered a fracture that kept her from her ballet practice for eight weeks. From there, the notes grew into the Silver Award project, which resulted in dozens of cards and posters for CYP girls.
“She imagined how these other girls felt, knowing her life was interrupted for a short time but many of them had lived through much worse and, in some cases, for most of their lives,” said Julia’s troop leader and mom, Tippy Lucarelli.
“It is just incredible to see someone so young recognize how a small thing like this can brighten up someone else’s entire day, or week, without ever meeting each other,” says Simpson. Because the girls of CYP are survivors of traumas, their identities are kept confidential to protect them.
“I’m very proud. It has taught me not to take what we have for granted and to try our best to teach that to our kids,” Tippy said.
Julia will continue her work with sixth and seventh graders so they can continue inspiring CYP participants with their positive cards and artwork.
You can learn more about the Silver Award and it’s requirements on the GSHH website.