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WATTS ( — Officials Wednesday celebrated the success of the first-ever Girl Scout troop established in Watts.

The Girl Scout troop, based at Grape Street Elementary School, is in its second year and already changing the community. It’s part of a partnership between the Girl Scouts, the Los Angeles Police Department and the city Housing Authority to give young girls something positive to do after school.

“If we don’t give our youth something to do, then they’re going to turn to the streets. So I feel the Girl Scouts and what they’ve done for the community has brought a newfound sense of commitment to their family, to their community, to law enforcement,” Los Angeles police Sgt. Emada Tingirides said.

Rather than being led by parents, the troop leaders are also teachers at the school.

“There are a lot of things going on in the community that are negative,” said teacher Denise Benjamin. “By being in the Girl Scouts, it gives them something positive to do.”

For the girls, it’s all about having fun with their friends and selling cookies.

“That’s what I like…being with everybody and talking about what we’re gonna do about selling cookies and getting badges,” Evelyn Romero said.

“My favorite part of being a Girl Scout is selling the cookies,” Librada Garcia said.

Cookie sales officially start Feb. 25.


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