Girls Empowering Movement (GEM) Leaders Create a Zombie Graphic Novel to Reach Middle School Girls

Four girls standing in a wooded area in front of a white sheet with fake bloody hand prints on it. Two of the girls are wearing Girls Empowering Movement butterfly logo shirts, and the other two are wearing green zombie makeup.

Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta, Troop 16074, has been an active participant in the Girls Empowering Movement (GEM) program since its inception in the fall of 2021. GEM has not only brought the troop closer but has also provided them with exciting opportunities to explore new physical activities as a team.

Understanding the GEM Program: Empowering Middle School Girls for Long-Term Health and Mental Wellness

GEM is a pioneering initiative on a mission to improve the health and mental wellness of middle school girls. GEM achieves this by empowering these girls to take the lead in creating and participating in physical activity programs designed by girls, for girls. Learn more at

Creating a Safe and Inclusive Space for Girls

Troop member, Max Estes describes GEM as being different than other programs she’s been part of, “Everyone is included, and the activities and events are inclusive and exciting.” “It’s only for middle school girls and that makes it a safe space for girls who want to get physically active but don’t know how,” says troop member, Maria Simokaitis.

The girl’s Troop Leader and GEM Adult Facilitator, Sabrina Simokaitis has seen growth in the girls’ leadership and communication skills since participating in GEM, “They have become more vocal about their opinions and needs. They are now making all the decisions involving the troop.”

Five girls dressed in girls scout uniforms, sitting around a statue of a lady and a dog.
GEM Leaders from Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta Troop 16074, (l-r) (Meagan Randolph, Willow Kann, Maria Simokaitis, Kalia Reed, Max Estes

Embarking on the Create A MOVEment Project

This year, the girls embarked on their “Create A MOVEment Project.” In this phase of the GEM journey, groups work together to design a community action project that helps other girls get active. As youth leaders, girls work together to create, implement, and evaluate their projects. Troop 16074 decided they wanted to reach other girls by creating a zombie graphic novel and hosting a zombie hike event. “We chose the book because we all like to read graphic novels and thought that others in our community would as well,” said troop member, Willow Kann. “This project is important because girls in middle school struggle with physical and mental wellness,” explained Meagan Randolph.

From Idea to Action: Spreading the GEM Impact

The girls met weekly throughout the summer and school year to develop ideas, conduct research, write, design, and plan the book’s launch. Through the process, the girls learned many valuable lessons. “I learned the importance of not procrastinating, staying on task -and how to work with other people more efficiently,” said Meagan. The time spent together also helped to strengthen the groups’ relationships. “They have become close friends. Working on a project of this magnitude created strong friendships that I suspect will be lifelong,” says Sabrina.

From Novel to Reality: The Zombie Hike Event

The troop launched the graphic novel, “Don’t Get Caught,” a story of how four girls from different backgrounds come together to survive a zombie apocalypse while staying physically and mentally healthy. The girls wrote the story, designed the graphics, and distributed copies to local libraries. They also hosted a Zombie Hike event for other middle school girls. The event was held in Fayetteville, GA, and participants received a swag bag and a copy of the book. The girls also collected book donations for a local charity organization.

Two girls are standing behind a table set in the woods, to prepare for the Zombie Run. One girl is wearing green zombie face make up and is pretending to bite the other.
GEM Leaders from Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta Troop 16074, Meagan Randolph (left) and Willow Kann, set up a table for the Zombie Run.

Spreading the GEM Impact: A Sustainability Plan

The project included a sustainability plan to ensure it would reach more girls. The Troop distributed the book to middle school and public libraries in Fayette County and neighboring counties. The book was distributed to 36 middle school libraries in eight Georgia counties, and to the three public libraries in Fayette County. The girls received an overwhelmingly positive response to the book. One librarian mailed a “thank you” note and requested a meeting to have the girls autograph the book. Another librarian was inspired to start a book-writing program for the kids at her school.

Reflecting on the Growth and Future Impact of the GEM Program

The troop has been thrilled with the enthusiasm and outcome of the project. “It brought our troop together and gave us opportunities to reach out to other middle school girls who have the same struggles as us,” says Meagan. Sabrina reflected on the experience with her troop, “This project showed them what they can accomplish and how much of a significant impact they can have on their community.  I am so proud of them and know that they will all go far in life.  My hope is that GEM continues for future girls.  The world needs more female leaders and GEM is most definitely a great place to start.”

Learn more about the GEM Program at:


  • Delilah Landrum

    Delilah Landrum is the Marketing Manager for the Girls Empowering Movement Program (GEM) at HealthMPowers. She is an Arizona native and proud mom of two daughters who is enthusiastic about empowering others to take charge of their health and wellness. She is currently pursuing a Master of Science degree in integrative health and wellness. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with family, traveling, working out, and cooking.