Carolina teen receives Girl Scouts’ highest award

Project fills critical need for premature babies

Carolina teen receives Girl Scouts’ highest award

The Gold Award has been the Girl Scouts’ highest honor since 1916, and a very special Charlotte girl has taken home the gold.

Kamdyn Morton, an 11th grade student at North Mecklenburg High School, was presented with the Gold Award designation by the Girl Scouts Hornets’ Nest Council for her Preemie Beanies project.

“My project fulfilled this critical need by providing beanie hats for premature babies. Parents want to see their babies as happy newborns, not as patients,” Morton said.

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“Through the Preemie Beanies Project, I provided premature babies the gift of warmth for protection and to wear a soft head covering given with love.”

Her research found that babies born prematurely do not have enough body fat to maintain proper body temperature and that heat is released fastest through the head; however, because of the size of the baby’s head, it is difficult to find hats that fit them.

Though hospitals use warming tools and keep a few preemie clothes and hats on hand, Morton wanted to increase their supply by knitting beanies for the little patients.

“My project fulfilled this critical need by providing beanie hats for premature babies,” she said.

Her first challenge was that, before this project, she had no idea how to crochet or knit, so she signed up for knitting classes. But even with her new skills, knitting just one hat took several weeks. Fortunately, a co-worker of her father gave Morton a looming kit, which helped churn out hats a little faster.

With a goal of 150 hats, she also asked for donations and far exceeded her original amount, collecting 345.

“I made booklets to share with others about the Preemie Beanie project,” Morton said. “The more I share about the need and make others aware, the more engaged people become and want to take part in making or donating preemie hats.”

Between business volunteers, members of the community who donated, and friends and family members who participated, there were more than 100 people who contributed.

Infinity Leadership Consulting LLC has agreed to carry forward the project annually. There will be an annual Preemie Beanie Hat knitting and collection drive during the month of November, which is Prematurity Awareness Month.

This exceptional young woman plans to collaborate with other hospitals to expand the reach of Preemie Beanies to other neonatal units in Charlotte. She has already begun conversations with a Boston resident who wants to gather her knitting group to make beanies for the Boston Children’s Hospital neonatal intensive care unit.

“This project helped me discover my passion for children and working in the medical field,” Morton said.

“I cannot wait to inspire others.”

The rigorous award process is open to high school students and requires a Girl Scout to create a long-term solution to a community problem. A seven-step, 80-hour minimum project with sustainable results and a panel review are mandatory to earn the Gold Award.

“Premature children benefited directly from this project, as well as their families,” she said.

“It is now one less purchase they must think about or make, and they know someone cares about them and is looking out for them and their child.”

Morton will deliver the beanies to Novant Hospital in Huntersville.

If you have an inspiring story to share, email Kevin Campbell, WSOC-TV/WAXN-TV/Telemundo Charlotte public affairs manager, at Kevin.Campbell@wsoctv.com.