Breona Pizzuta Earns Gold Award for Addressing Mental Health

(above) Breona Pizzuta earned Girl Scouting’s Gold Award for addressing mental health among teens.
Courtesy photo

Breona Pizzuta earns Gold Award 

Girl Scouts of Cranford

Gold Award Girl Scouts in high school complete projects to make the world a better place and earn the highest award available to Seniors and Ambassadors.

Breona Pizzuta, a senior at Cranford High School, received her Girl Scout Gold Award for creating a program that helped address mental health for teenagers at school, helping her peers build coping mechanisms and resilience. She felt there was a need to address student mental health at Cranford High School and immediately went to work on creating a successful program for all students at CHS.

Mental health has grown to become one of the most important issues facing our youth today. The Cranford Public School district prioritizes the mental health and well-being of all students to help ensure their academic and emotional success. High school students are a population who are in great need of mental health services and one Cranford Girl Scout stepped up to provide her school community with resources and support.

Breona has been a dedicated Girl Scout since kindergarten. She has served Cranford Service Unit 48 as a youth leader as well as a Girl Scouts of Heart of New Jersey Media Girl. “Girl Scouts helps bring out the best in girls and allows me to be involved as a member of my community and society to help others in need,” Pizzuta recalls. “Through Girl Scouts I have learned life-long skills such as goal setting, money management, decision making, business ethics and problem solving. Girl Scouts has taught me that anyone can do anything they put their mind to!”

Breona felt passionate about focusing her Gold Award project on a meaningful issue that impacted many teenagers. She understood the stress and anxiety of teens due to workload, competition, and pressure to be a successful student at school along with the pressures of society and the world presented through social media and news outlets, Pizzuta wanted to help her peers manage their own mental health.

“I researched and learned that untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide,” Breona said. “My general focus was student stressors and pressures that lead to negative feelings and declining mental health.”

Breona, a leading member of CHS Girls Who Code, put her computer science skills to use by creating her own website for the project with mental health statistics, resources, lessons, techniques, and activities proven beneficial by mental health professionals. She also reached out to the then District Coordinator of Culture and Climate for Cranford Public Schools and partnered on this project to have the greatest impact.

Breona’s program, Mental Health Matters, includes a website and research-based curriculum she developed based on “helpful techniques and lessons that have been proven beneficial by mental help professionals such as counselors and researchers.”  The program ran once a month for six months during lunch, where students would discuss a given topic and complete a hands-on activity or craft. She tracked student progress and learning with pre- and post-session questionnaires. Mrs. Colucci would teach the information and Breona would lead the activity which created the perfect partnership for Cranford High School students to receive resources and support.

Mental Health Matters “helped students have fewer negative thoughts and taught them positive ways to manage their stress,” Breona said of the results. She was a fantastic facilitator and collaborative partner with Mrs. Colucci who was in awe of Breona’s skills and passion for the project.

The successful program was shared by the Director of Counseling, Lisa Burfeindt and Cranford High School Student Assistance Counselor, Toni Anthony with other districts in Union County. Her passion and vision to help others with Mental Health will continue and expand.

The Girl Scouts of Cranford boasts over 1,139 Girl Scout Members in 71 troops and Juliettes making it one of the largest non-profit organizations in town. The Cranford Service Unit is a part of the Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey (GSHNJ) Council which is part of the Girl Scouts of the USA. If your family is interested in learning more about local Girl Scouts or to find out more information on the Girls Scouts of Cranford, please visit

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