Three girls from Girl Scouts of Western New York’s Troop 60437 in Hilton recently earned their Silver Award. Natalie Porter, Emily Richards and Tiffany Wenzel created a gaga ball pit at their local park.
The award can be earned by Cadette Girl Scouts in grades 6-8. The goal is for girls to identify an issue in the community that they care about and develop a sustainable project to help solve the problem.
The girls learned how to play gaga ball at Girl Scout camp and they wanted to share their love of the game with others in their community.
“The project was difficult, but I had a lot of fun planning and working toward the final product,” Wenzel said. “I am so glad we stuck it out and were able to accomplish something so big that the whole community can enjoy. I truly believe we have made a lasting impact on the community and I’m proud of what we have done.”
Originally, they proposed a wooden pit to the town board. The town loved the idea, but requested the girls use composite lumber to create a low-maintenance and long-lasting project, which meant a higher cost. The girls raised money for their project by applying for a grant and running a bottle drive.
A businessman from LJ’s Remodeling Inc. saw their bottle drive and donated the remaining cost of the project, plus some building materials. Hilton-Parma Parks & Recreation donated a concrete and rubber base to ensure the project would remain low-maintenance and sustainable. The girls added an ADA door to the pit so children of all abilities could enjoy the game.
“We are so proud of the girls,” said Melissa Wenzel, co-leader of Troop 60437. “This project had its challenges and the girls got discouraged at points, but they persevered and were so pleased when the project was finished.”
“The girls could not have completed the project without the generous sponsorships they received,” co-leader Chrissy Porter said. “The girls had a vision, but it was the support of the town and our donors who made it possible.”
The gaga ball pit is located at Parma Town Hall.
“The town of Parma is thrilled to have a brand-new gaga pit at Parma Town Park, thanks to the generous donations from Girl Scout Troop 60437 and a private funder,” said Tom Venniro, director of Hilton-Parma Parks & Recreation. “The troop came to me back in May with a very impressive proposal, and worked incredibly hard to support the project and ultimately complete all phases of installation.
“Parma Town Park has so many great amenities, but did not have a permanent gaga pit so this adds such a great element as gaga has been one of the fastest growing games/activities over the past five to six years. Upon completion of the build, the troop members hopped in and started playing immediately. Although we still look forward to some finishing touches, we have already seen children intuitively hop in the pit and play in the short time it has been up, despite colder weather conditions.
“It is our pleasure to be able to thank Troop 60437 for a new park amenity that will bring joy to our community for years to come.”