Aryelle Jacobsen is the "I" in G.I.R.L. in every sense. An innovator. Creator. Maker.
Visionary. Collaborator. Outside-the-box thinker. Solution finder.
So when it came time to begin her Gold Award journey, Aryelle thought back on her own middle school experiences. She remembers the move from elementary to middle school as a chaotic time- where she was trying to find good friends and activities while at the same time battling typical teenage anxieties and fears. She often turned to artwork as a way to express her feelings.
With encouragement from her mom and the push to earn her Girl Scout Gold Award, Aryelle decided to take her drawings and the advice she had been writing down to the next level. She recruited some of her friends to help with additional artwork, began putting her thoughts together in simple and relatable words and gathered resources on topics from bullying and special needs to eating disorders and depression. From there her book, A is for Awkward- a Guide to Surviving Middle School, was born.
"I wanted to give kids a friendly resource they could use- one that lets them know it's ok to feel alone or awkward as a teen," she said. "I also wanted them to realize they have so many good resources around them- adults and friends that love them. This message of love and encouragement is what I want kids to know."
Along with her book, Aryelle created 12 lesson plans that middle schools can implement into their curriculum. Written with her high school literacy coach, the plans are divided into three groups- Interactive, Creative Projects and Independent- and two Asheville middle schools have already incorporated the materials into their classrooms.
With further promotion of her book and working to speak to teachers and guidance counselors through continuing education opportunities, Aryelle hopes to see her book used in middle schools across the country. She also hopes to turn her lesson plans into requirements for a future Girl Scout patch.
"Instead of putting each other down, we can help build each other up. That's what this project has been all about- youth empowerment," she said. "As part of a Girl Scout troop, I have also felt so empowered. Girl Scouts has really helped unite us together. Gaining independence, courage, confidence, everything Girl Scouts stands for, has truly been an awesome experience.
Aryelle is a senior at AC Reynolds High School in Asheville and is the daughter of Tristan and Doral Jacobsen. She began her Girl Scout journey as a Daisy and is currently a Girl Scout Ambassador in Girl Scout Troop 30077. She is also one of GSCP2P's council nominees for the 2017 Young Women of Distinction Award, an award presented by Girl Scouts of the USA every year to 10 young women from across the nation in recognition of their Girl Scout Gold Award projects.
Want to meet Aryelle and get a signed copy of her book? Come see her at the Ultimate Ice Cream Company in Asheville on Sunday, October 8 from 1-4 p.m.