Merrimack teen earns Girl Scout Gold Award

Courtesy photo Sarah Heimberg, 17, of Merrimack, earned the Girl Scout Gold Award for a project designed to make it easier for those struggling with addiction or mental illness to seek help.

MERRIMACK – Sarah Heimberg, 17, embarked on a project to make it more socially acceptable to ask for help with drug addiction and mental illness. Her worked helped her earn the Girl Scout Gold Award project, which is the highest level of achievement for a Girl Scout.

Heimberg, 17, worked with Merrimack Safeguard, a coalition of more than 25 members representing the community of Merrimack, including those in law enforcement, education, parents, youth, business, faith communities, and other fields. She determined a worthy project would be to remove some of the stigma from asking for help with these issues.

“We decided if people saw that individuals that they look up to are asking for help, they’ll feel better about asking for help,” Heimberg said. “We decided to make an interview video.”

Heimberg spent a summer interviewing a variety of people, including Kevin Skarupa of WMUR-TV; Marge Chiafry, superintendent of Merrimack schools; Mark Doyle, retired Merrimack police chief; the Rev. Lynne Mentzer, of St. James United Methodist Church; the Rev. Pat Henking, vicar of Faith Episcopal Church; Rich Desmond, the Merrimack school bus coordinator; Shawna D’Amour, assistant principal of Merrimack Middle School; and more.

Heimberg made a video called “A-OK,” which stands for Ask for help, Offer help, Keep it going.

The video has been given to a variety of businesses and community organizations, and Heimberg said it has been played for the Merrimack Board of Education and other presentations. She found those watching the video are more likely to ask for help when they need it.

“I hoped to reduce the stigma around asking for help,” she said, “which would benefit people of any age, gender, race or background.”

One component of a Gold Award project is that it should be sustainable, and Heimberg hopes that her A-OK video will be used by many organizations and schools for years to come.

The video can be seen at https://youtu.be/o06YqduO36s.