By MEG WATERS     2/13/2024

When pondering the game of basketball, one may not immediately draw a connection to coding.

Girl Scout Gabrielle DeCuir had no problem seeing how the two connected — and because if this, earned a Gold Award — the highest award in Girl Scouts.

“I noticed that the boys had been doing coding since they were in grade school,” said Gabrielle, a senior at Valencia High School in Placentia. “I thought young women needed help to catch up, especially women of color, and I wanted to break the stereotype of coders who people think are primarily men, aloof and working alone behind a computer screen.”

Gabrielle, who enjoys both basketball and computer science, broke the mold to show girls that they could be coders and athletes and use common principles to succeed at both.

Her Gold Award program, call “Hoops & Coders,” encourages young women to pursue STEM subjects and athletics through the shared principles of teamwork, strategy, precision and creativity found in both science and athletics.

Gabrielle created a 57-page workbook titled “CompSci & Basketball Workbook: 5 Days of Fundamental Learning,” available at teacherspayteachers.com.

In developing “Hoops & Coders,” Gabrielle looked at research that showed the benefits of incorporating activities, especially sports, with learning. An active brain and body create more neuro-connections, improving performance in both activities.

According to the Girl Scouts, the Gold Award is the highest achievement a girl can earn. The girl must identify an issue within their community, innovate a solution, create a detailed action plan and spend at least 80 hours bringing it to fruition.

In addition to her Gold Award, Gabrielle also participated in the “My Promise, My Faith” program, which offers girls a chance to explore with their family and faith leaders how the Girl Scout Law compliments their religious beliefs.

In Gabrielle’s case, she connected her Catholic Faith to scouting through the principles of honesty, fairness and helpfulness.

“I want to make the world a better place and be a sister to every Girl Scout,” said Gabrielle, who attends St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church in Yorba Linda.

Girl Scouts of Orange County CEO Vikki Shepp, Ed.D., said, “Girl Scout Gabrielle DeCuir demonstrated the connection between faith and Girl Scouts in a meaningful Gold Award project that truly helps students learn by combining her love of STEM with basketball.”

To further connect scouting to our Catholic Faith, the Diocese of Orange and Girl Scouts of Orange County will celebrate Mass on Saturday, March 16 at 4 p.m. Bishop Thanh Thai Nguyen will preside over the Mass.

The Mass, which coincides with Girl Scout Week, will be followed by an awards ceremony until 7 p.m. at Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove. Girl Scouts of all ages and families are invited to register to attend. Girl Scouts are asked to wear their uniform. All participants will receive a special blessing.

Eligible Girl Scouts will receive earned faith awards and recognitions, including My Promise, My Faith Awards, OC Faith Award certificates, Catholic religious recognitions and Gold Award Girl Scout recognition at the awards reception. Families are encouraged to enjoy this event together.

Please register for the Diocesan Girl Scout Mass & Awards Reception at girlscoutsoc.org under Diocesan Girl Scout Mass.