Erinn Aulfinger Writes Book to Help Adolescent Girls
Most of us remember what it was like in high school—crowded hallways, a ton of homework and extracurricular activities that kept us from finishing that homework until late at night. Erinn Aulfinger, a junior at Lakota East High School, has the best of both worlds; she loves learning and exceeding expectations in extracurriculars.
For 11 years, Aulfinger has been a Girl Scout, and this year, she’s working on earning her Gold Award—the highest award within the organization. Award recipients must go through a seven-step project that focuses on a community problem and solve it for the long term.
To obtain the Gold Award, Aulfinger chose to write, one of her many pastimes and passions.
“That’s why I started my project for Girl Scouts, so I could kind of get back into creative writing and personal narratives and explaining myself through writing,” she says.
Aulfinger noticed her friends struggling with self-esteem, depression, anxiety and other risky behaviors, she says. She wanted to help.
Aulfinger is using her journalism skills, which she gained from being Package Editor at The Spark, the school newspaper at Lakota East High School. She does research, talks with experts, interviews psychologists and is putting together a book of all her findings, including stories, exercises and advice by women, for women.
Using her journalism background to dig deeper into the story, Aulfinger says she feels the project is a good way to connect to girls experiencing low self-esteem or facing other challenging circumstances.
“Not only do I love writing, but I feel like when I was little, writing really connected me to other people, and so one of the books that really gave me the basis and the idea for my book was the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. I could really connect to the ladies’ stories in those and I felt like I could do some of the same things,” she says.
Aulfinger plans to distribute the books to 600 girls in sixth grade within the Lakota School district and it will be published as an e-book, so young women can view it for generations to come.
Although Aulfinger continues to have success with the project, she did hit snags along the way that really tested her self-esteem, she says.
“She reached out to an esteem expert after reading some content from that individual on the internet, and the person wrote her a scathingly-mean email back, telling her she was ‘too young, and too inexperienced’ to tackle this project and advising her to quit because she was ‘way out of her depth,’” explains Lori Aulfinger, Erinn’s mother.
“But Erinn then handled that situation in a way that really impressed me,” Lori Aulfinger continues. “Most people would have gotten upset at the sender—maybe even thought about sending back an equally rude email, but not Erinn. She was able to shake off the negativity.”
Erinn says she’s put in a total of 220 hours of work collecting data, conducting interviews, designing the layout for her book and of course, writing. The minimum work hour requirement for the award is 90.
“Only six percent of Girl Scouts go on to earn their Girl Scout Gold Award and Erinn is a shining example of the outstanding young women who will be leading our communities in the near future. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Erinn,” says Roni Luckenbill, CEO of Girl Scouts of Western Ohio.
Erinn is active in her after-school activities, including being captain of the Mock Trial Team, editing on The Spark and volunteering at the animal shelter, but she’s putting 100 percent into her Gold Award project.
“This feels good,” she says. “I wish that someone was there for me at that age. I hope that this [book] can be there for another girl.”