Making a Difference

Emma Richards-Smith of Solana Beach has earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the organization’s highest honor awarded to Girls Scouts for demonstrating extraordinary leadership by creating sustainable solutions that address society’s greatest challenges. For her Gold Award project, Emma developed a sports injury prevention program for student athletes.

During her freshman year of high school, Emma had to take a year off from sports due to a severe, but preventable, injury. The experience inspired her to educate athletes ages 11 and up on how to prevent sports-related injuries like muscle pulls, strains, and tears. Through workshops and a pamphlet, she shared techniques such as stretching, foam rolling, nutrition, body-weight strengthening, and overall body care. Her school’s rugby, lacrosse, and badminton teams incorporated the practices, resulting in athletes feeling less sore and having fewer injuries.


Emma graduated this year as an AP scholar with distinction from Torrey Pines High School, where she was a four-sport varsity athlete and an All-Academic Athlete. She was accepted into the United States Military Academy at West Point. Emma plans to study engineering at the academy, then branch into engineering as an army officer. She aspires to later pursue a law degree and become a patent lawyer.

Emma was among 61 Gold Award winners honored during a recent ceremony at the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines. “Gold Award Girl Scouts change the world for the better, and change it for good!” said Girl Scouts San Diego CEO Carol M. Dedrich. “Our 2019 honorees embody everything this achievement stands for.” For information on Girl Scouting opportunities contact Tracy Browns at, or visit