Newsletter and Subscription Sign Up

Childhood worries addressed by Gold Award Girl Scout

Published Monday Oct 25, 2021

Childhood worries addressed by Gold Award Girl Scout

While many adults consider childhood a carefree time, it can actually be filled with worry and anxiety, whether over issues like friends, school, doctor visits, or family issues. Girl Scout Melinda Rolls wanted to help children cope with those worries by writing a children’s book backed up by helpful techniques from a clinical psychologist. Her enterprising effort has earned Rolls the highest honor available to girls in grades 9-12, the Girl Scout Gold Award.

Rolls, 18, of Merrimack, wrote, illustrated, and published “Worry Stars: Helping Children Mindfully Cope with Worries,” which features a little alien named Leo who feels what he calls “stars buzzing inside him” when he worries. His friend Gerald helps him with mindfulness exercises, and the story ends with the thought that when you look up at the night sky you are seeing each worry star that’s been overcome by someone.

“As a kid, I struggled with anxiety,” Rolls said. “Most adults tend to think kids are fine. For my case, when I was 5 or 6, I was really anxious about everything, sad all the time. Even if it’s just minimal worries, going to school, asking for help on a math problem, it can be a lot. Kids should be given the resources to deal with that. I wanted to tell kids everyone goes through it, and here’s something that can help.”

Dr. Susan Yardley is a clinical psychologist who helped Rolls as a child, and specializes in the treatment of children with anxiety disorders.

“I was very excited about Melinda’s project because so many children struggle with anxiety and often feel alone with their worries,” she said. “Melinda’s book, ‘Worry Stars,’ helps children to see anxiety through a unique lens while the characters demonstrate how to cope with difficult feelings. I am certain that children will enjoy the story line along with the adorable illustrations. Melinda had a vision about what she wanted to create and worked with great independence to achieve her goal.  She sought consultation to verify the accuracy of the information she presented and to seek editing feedback prior to her final draft.”

Yardley also saw growth in Rolls as she worked on the book.

“She demonstrated her own resiliency as she completed her senior year of high school during a pandemic, worked part-time teaching gymnastics, applied and was accepted to several colleges, and wrote and illustrated a fabulous children’s book in her spare time!” she said.

Rolls not only came up with the plot, she taught herself digital illustration skills, which she would like to continue doing in the future.

A lifelong Girl Scout, Rolls has also earned Girl Scouting’s Bronze and Silver Awards, available to girls in younger years. She has traveled, developed outdoor skills, mentored younger girls, and became a cookie entrepreneur with her troop. Proceeds from her troop’s cookie businesses helped to finance her book.

“I’ve done so much!” she said. “I think the most exciting thing was we went to Canada, a big trip our troop did. It was the first time I’ve been out of the country. Another highlight was helping with younger Girl Scouts. You get to an age where it’s not about yourself anymore, it’s about helping the younger girls.”

Rolls is now a freshman at Hofstra University in New York, studying journalism, and aiming at becoming a TV news anchor.

All Stories