A sizeable crowd of people gathered at the Jefferson Township Lions Club on Saturday, August 24, to view a new mural painted on the building by Gabrielle Edwards, a Girl Scout with Troop #50694. Gabrielle conceived of, designed, planned, and executed the project in order to fulfill the requirements for the Gold Award, the Girl Scouts’ equivalent of the Eagle Scout project completed by Boy Scouts as the highest level of achievement troop members can attain.

The brightly colored and detailed mural fills a sizable portion of the outside wall of the Lions Club Building. The image shows the profile of a male lion’s head, with the mane of the lion made up of images representing community volunteer projects and landmarks.

“I choose this project and subject because I’m very passionate about art and I thought this was a unique way to educate the community about the opportunities available to volunteer and also create a sense of pride in our town,” explained Gabrielle, who has been participating in Girl Scouts for ten years.

Bringing the project from concept to completion was a multistep process that required Gabrielle to do a lot of planning and research before she even began to dip a paintbrush into a can of paint. “First I had to come up with a project. It was a bit overwhelming looking at past projects and all the requirements necessary to complete the Gold Award Project. I thought a long time about what I could possibly do that was original and would make an impact,” Gabrielle explained.

She continued, “I approached the Jefferson Lions Club and asked if I could do a mural and they were very enthusiastic and agreed. I then had to actually pick what I wanted to paint. They gave me some ideas on what they’d like to incorporate, so I sketched up many lions and decided to do a cartoonish looking face with the mane full of our community spirit and energy.”

Once the preliminary work was done, it was time for Gabrielle to get hands-on with bringing her ideas to life.

“The wall had to be prepped first, so I took some paint chips to the store to get the color and right type of paint, which turned out to be masonry paint. The employees at the store were very helpful and told me that any outdoor paint would stay on top the masonry, so we didn’t have to buy special paint, so we just bought house paint.” Gabrielle noted that she didn’t have to have colors mixed specifically for her project because she chose bright, primary colors to maximize the visual impact of the mural.

A big part of any Gold Award project is the sense of community it embodies, since the projects generally are done to address a need in the community or to improve some aspect of the community in a meaningful way.

The projects are meant to be both sustainable and educational and scouts are encouraged to seek input and help from troop leaders and other members of the troop, as well as from family members, local officials, and sponsors from the community when necessary. Gabrielle’s project was no exception, in that she asked for and received support from many people while working to bring the project to fruition.

“The wall was power washed and scraped of the loose paint. My mom and brother, Jack, helped me be paint the base coat. My mom and I came back later to start the fun part, the face. We took my sketch of what I wanted and measured out the center. We then found the center of the wall and worked our way out, sketching with pencils and house paint. We finished the face the first day in the heat, followed by ice cream,” said Gabrielle.

She continued, “We came back with five friends --Julia, Jayden, Addy, Emie, and Emma-- and started the mane. The mane was definitely the hardest part of the mural with all the details. We got a good start on it, finishing maybe three sections and starting many. Me and my mom stopped by and worked on the mane for about two weeks two hours there, three the next free day and so on, adding details and definitive locations in the community.  

"Together we have over 60 hours of painting. We debated adding a top coat to protect the art but settled on not. The paint store told us it wasn’t necessary.”

Gabrielle prepared a display showing different aspects of the project, including recognition for the sponsors who helped with the cost of materials and the names of the friends who helped with the hands-on work of painting the mural. For added fun, Gabrielle incorporated a number of hidden objects into her design and provided a coloring sheet with a list of the hidden objects so folks could try to spot them for themselves.

Gabrielle is the daughter of Dan and Bonnie Edwards and has two brothers, Jack and Michael. She is a junior at the North Pocono High School where she is a member of the Art Club. Gabrielle’s mother, Bonnie, is her Girl Scout troop leader and is committed to helping members of her troop attain their Gold Awards, something only around six percent of Girl Scouts achieve.