Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
“Politics is more than just the president, and your vote does make an impact,” said 17-year-old Ella L’Heureux, Leavenworth High School senior, at the end of her YouTube video, “Why Should I Vote? (Think Global, Act Local).”
The video represents the completion of L’Heureux’s Gold Award for Girl Scouts. L’Heureux is a member of Fort Leavenworth Troop 5463.
L’Heureux said her interest in civics and the voting process began in eighth grade.
“I was lucky enough to be able to take a civics course. By lucky enough, I really mean that it was the social studies course we had to take. Most people don’t get to do that,” she said. “Most people take another middle school U.S. history course. I learned a lot about civics in that course, and it stayed in the back of my mind throughout high school.
“The 2016 election happened, and I was a middle schooler, so I wasn’t super invested, but I was invested in certain civil rights issues and political issues, and I heard a little bit about voter disfranchisement through my class and through watching the media,” she said.
When it came time to choose a Gold Award project, L’Heureux said what she learned about in that initial civics course kept coming up in her mind.
“I’m still 17, so I can’t vote this year, but I thought it’s kind of weird that you only get civic education when you’re a senior in high school, and it’s already a little bit too late if you’re able to vote because you only have a couple of months to learn everything you need to know about the political system,” she said. “I thought this was really strange and so I decided that that was the issue I wanted to tackle.”
L’Heureux decided a video would be the best way to create a project that was sustainable.
In Girl Scouts, projects to complete a Gold Award must be sustainable for at least 10 years without the input of the Girl Scout and have potential for national and global impact.
“I thought a video would be the most effective way to get a lot of people to see it,” L’Heureux said. “I thought if I just gave a talk, maybe my school would see it and maybe my peers would see it, but it probably wouldn’t go outside my immediate circle, and it wouldn’t be something sustainable.”
To create the three-minute video, L’Heureux wrote out a script and recorded it and, with the help of Troop 5463 funds, paid the license to use a stock footage library to find images and video clips to use with the narration.
“I decided that I didn’t want it to just be me talking at a camera because that’s boring and non-engaging,” she said.
While a majority of the project was completed by L’Heureux in order to meet the 80 hours of work requirement for a Gold Award, she did receive input from Vickie Trott, Girl Scout Gold Award adviser, and Laura Batson, community adviser.
“I’ve been a Girl Scout Gold Award adviser for a number of years and Ella’s project is one of the best I’ve seen,” Trott said. “Her project was so timely because it was about getting voting information to high school students who may not have much knowledge of the voting process.
“Her planning and execution of the project were well thought out and her video was so well done that it’ll be used in government classes in the future,” she said.
Batson said she saw L’Heureux’s passion for the project immediately.
“From the first time we met together, she spoke of how important it is to engage younger adults, especially first-time voters, in this process,” Batson said. “As a military dependent, she was concerned that the potential transient nature of a dependent’s childhood might give the perception that their vote didn’t count. Ella wanted to shine a light on the fact that the more local an issue is the more powerful your vote becomes.
“I became one of her biggest cheerleaders as Ella made progress in her project,” she said.
Now that the video is complete, L’Heureux said she has high hopes for the video’s impact.
“I really want the youth of my community, my country and the world to become engaged in the political process,” L’Heureux said. “The issues of young people and older people, while they overlap a lot, sometimes they just don’t. Sometimes they have different priorities.
“I want to make sure those priorities are counted,” she said. “It’s one vote for everyone, but if not everyone votes then it’s not.”