Maria Gonzalez uses her passion for ice skating to help youth.

When 15-year-old Chandler resident Maria Gonzalez isn’t on the ice practicing for her next figure skating competition, she is out in the community making a difference.

By combining her passion for helping others with her love for figure skating, this Girl Scout has become a change maker, inspiring youth to find their footing on the ice and to pursue new physical activities through her project that earned her the highest honor in Girl Scouting, a Gold Award.

“Being a competitive figure skater for 10 years, I felt compelled to take action and address the issue of physical inactivity of the youth in my community,” says Maria, a Hamilton High School student.

The first part of her efforts to address this issue were through her Skate for Fitness instructional event at Ice Den Chandler, a place she frequents regularly for practice. The event started with a free 20-minute lesson where almost 70 children were able to learn the basics of figure skating like how to start and stop on skates.

“I wanted to create an environment where kids could ask questions and receive direct instruction from the coaches that have helped me improve my abilities as well,” says Maria.

Shortly after the lesson, she gave a 10-minute speech highlighting the importance of her Gold Award project, introducing all the skating coaches that volunteered and shared her experiences as a competitive figure skater.

The event finished with a bang, as 10 of the volunteers put on an exhibition for attendees, skating their competitive programs and introducing new styles of skating to the crowd.

Another element of Gonzalez’s project was her blog,, a site dedicated to answering unique skating questions and addressing the health benefits the sport of figure skating has to offer.

“Because my project was all about education, it was important to me that I created a place where people could visit and learn something they didn’t know before, whether it was about buying your first pair of skates or the benefits the sport has on our health,” says Maria.