Emily Arthur saw a need and found a way to fill it.
The Natick High School junior is a Girl Scout who is a volunteer at the Maryann Morse Health Care Center’s memory impaired floor for the last two summers. In charge of running the residents’ fitness classes, she noticed there wasn’t a lot of participation except when music was involved.
There, she found the need. To fill it, she created a chair dance exercise class so that residence could be safe, but active.
Arthur, who has been a part of Girl Scout Troop 72293 since first grade, said she wanted to use her lifelong love of dancing to help the residents.
“I would help run the exercises class which most residents would sleep through. However, I made an observation whenever we would have musical entertainment … I would see how alive the residents would become. They would try to get up and dance. Since many of them are wheelchair-bound, it was not safe for them to do so. I thought I could develop a seated dance/fitness exercises class with the music the residents would love.
“Since I have been a dancer my whole life and staying fit is very important, I wanted to incorporate both of them. After talking to many residents, many told me they used to love going to the dance halls, so I wanted to incorporate an activity they loved to do while staying healthy, fit and safe,” said the Senior Elite Competitive Dance Team member at Broadway Bound Dance Center. Arthur also volunteers to teach younger students at the studio.
Thanks to her efforts, the residents not only were treated to a new class that they enjoyed and could safely do, Arthur was awarded the Girl Scout Gold award. The award – the highest award a Girl Scout can achieve – is only earned by about 6% of the Girl Scouts in America.
According to Gina Arthur, Natick Girl Scouts Service Unit Coordinator, the Girl Scout Gold Award is the organization’s highest recognition for individual community service leadership, requiring high school students to dedicate 80 hours to a project that identifies a problem and provides a sustainable solution for lasting change.
Arthur‘s efforts have definitely led to a lasting change. The activities department is now using the program as part of their morning exercises program on the Memory Care Unit.
In addition to being part of her troop, Arthur has severed in many leadership roles with Natick Girls Scouts. Including mentoring younger Girl Scouts and leading town-wide Girl Scout events.
“To me, Girl Scouts means being able to help other people in need, and giving back to my community. All while having fun with a group of girls friends that I have been able to depend on, look up to and most importantly be myself around,” said the National Honor Society member.
in addition to enjoying the residents having fun at the new dance fitness classes, she liked the smiles that she brought to their faces.
““It was little difficult to build relationships due to their decreased cognition, however every time they saw me, they would think I was their daughter and their faces would light up. I believe in some way I was reminding them of good times in their lives,” she said.
When she’s not busy with Girl Scouts or dancing, she spends time on the varsity cross-country and the varsity spring track and field teams at Natick High School. she hopes to carry some of what she learned in her experience at Maryann Morse to her future in pre-med..
“I learned how to listen and advocate for the residents. When I first began, I was very shy speaking to the elderly and the staff, but as time went on I became more comfortable interacting with resident and staff. I feel these skills will help me in my future career of medicine,” she said.