Shanon McGregory was honored at a recent Sandwich City Council meeting for earning the Girl Scouts Gold Award, the highest award in Girl Scouts.
It’s equal to the Eagle award for Boy Scouts, according to Mayor Rick Olson, who introduced McGregory to the audience.
“I’ve known her family for years. We attend the same church and this young lady has accomplished some great achievements,” Olson said.
He said McGregory recently had lost her grandmother, and he noted the tribute McGregory gave to her grandmother.
Shanon is the daughter of Barb and Tim McGregory of Sandwich.
Her project was to put a program together to help teens and others who may be considering suicide.
“It’s a program to promote suicide prevention and awareness,” Shanon McGregory said.
McGregory said she received a lot of help on the project from her mother, as well as her pediatrician, Dr. Laurie Schnell, who mentored her on the project.
“Dr. Schnell has been her pediatrician since birth,” Barb McGregory said.
Shanon’s new physician, Dr. Tessa Grant, and a social worker at Advocate Dreyer also gave her much help, she added.
McGregory said her goal was to work with doctors at the Advocate Dreyer Clinic in Aurora to help them sense how patients are feeling to determine whether they need help.
She said she did a survey to obtain information that could help a doctor work with patients and determine whether they are in need of help. Her work resulted in Advocate Dreyer implementing a program to help the doctors, she said.
She also distributed handouts at her high school, Sandwich, to let students know that there is a way for them to get help if they need it.
McGregory said she got the idea to take this on as a project when her sister, who was a high school freshman, said she did not want to live anymore.
“My mom was scared, she didn’t know what to do, so she took her to a hospital. She said she thought her daughter was over-reacting but the doctor said he had never met any parents who thought their child was over-reacting to that kind of situation. There’s such a hush-hush about suicide that I just wanted them to know that they have someone to talk to. They have to visit their pediatrician every year at school, so that would be a great way for them to talk to someone,” McGregory said, referring to students who may be considering suicide.
McGregory was a freshman in high school when she started on this project, and she worked on it through her senior year. Scouts must spend at least 80 hours on a project to receive the Gold Award.
Olson noted that Alderwoman Sheryl Chmielewski, who is a Girl Scout leader, also worked with McGregory on her project.
“My mom and dad were very supportive considering the time I also spent on school, sports and clubs. When I became overwhelmed, they just gave me support and pushed me over the finish line,” McGregory said.
She felt like giving up many times, but realized there were many people who were relying on her, so she stuck with it. “I could not let them down,” she said.
At school, she worked with a counselor who helped her distribute information to fellow students.
“My sister got help and she’s good now, but it was scary what my mom had to go through,” McGregory said.
McGregory is 19 now, so she is considered an adult Girl Scout.
“I can continue to be part of the program and take more of a leadership role rather than a Girl Scout role,” she said. “My mother, Barb, has been a leader for the full time. And I also had full support from my dad, Tim.”
“We’re incredibly proud of her. This was a lot of work,” her mother said.
McGregory wants to be a teacher after college and said she would love to continue a program like this in whatever school she begins teaching in.
“I think it’s important for students to have people they can talk to, because I don’t think people quite realize the impact something like this has on young people,” she said, referring to possible suicide.
Olson said McGregory also was able to find time to be on the school’s dance team, attending sporting events.
“Thank you for this. It’s a remarkable effort to work with this. It’s a serious situation,” Olson added.
Her fellow Girl Scouts, as well as other friends, were present.