With each passing generation, the allure of constant cell phone use gains a greater foothold on youth. Children are subjected to more than just playground games, they’re thrust into a world of social media that can be debilitating in formative years.
To get the kids of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Santa Monica off the screen and into a productive after-school period, Girl Scout Morgan Davidson put her creativity to work. The end result is a “Creation Station” at the venue, a room designed to encourage fun arts and crafts projects and the camaraderie that comes with it.
Davidson earned the Gold Award with the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles for her 80 hours of work on the station, the highest achievement in Girl Scouts and the pinnacle of her scout work that began all the way back in Kindergarten.
“It is a lot of work but it is definitely rewarding,” Davidson said. “Knowing that I’ve created this sustainable place for all these kids to benefit from means so much to me, especially since my whole life, I’ve been planning on getting this, the highest Girl Scout award that I can achieve. So I’m really glad I did it.”
Now a junior in high school, Davidson worked tirelessly over the summer on the room after gaining approval for the project from scout leaders. Her proposal was an art station that has kids “get off their phones” and “just interact with one another.”
“Essentially, (I had) to find a root cause for a problem in society,” she said. “I chose the rising mental health problems in youth, and I found that it stems a lot from social media.”
Davidson wanted the room to have a “beachy” theme to match the atmosphere of Santa Monica, and took inspiration from Pinterest and various art organizations to fill out the room with a cavalcade of creative supplies. Children at the club have access to everything from colored pencils and markers to various paints and canvases.
For projects that make kids particularly proud, the room contains a wall to pin their creations to, showing off their skills to friends and families.
“I want it to be a space where the kids can just get up and get whatever materials they want,” Davidson said. “Make whatever they want, whatever comes to their mind. We had something like this at my elementary school, and I just remember it was so much fun to sit with my friends and make art … I felt this was a (good) way to approach the problem with mental health.”
Prior to her Gold Award project, Davidson completed a Bronze Award project with a group by baking treats and making decorations for a local dog shelter, then moved onto her Silver Award project with a smaller group. Initially wanting to renovate the butterfly garden at Paul Revere Charter Middle School, the COVID-19 pandemic put a wrench into the plans, a “crazy” period for the then-middle schooler. She ended up taking an alternate path to the Silver Award by making 100 sack lunches for unhoused persons, and though it wasn’t a “sustainable” project, she was given leeway due to the pandemic challenges.
Davidson credits the group she came up with, and the path to her Gold Award, as being worth the wild ride.
“I just really love the community that I have with my other Girl Scouts. I don’t really see the girls often anymore … (since) we all went to different middle schools, (but) whenever we have meetings I get to see all my old friends to catch up on life. And I love that I get to make a difference.”