Hilton Girl Scouts earn Silver Award with new gaga ball pit

[The following story was shared with GSWNY by Troop 60437. To share your story, please email communications@gswny.org]

Three girls from Girl Scouts of Western New York’s Troop 60437 recently earned their Girl Scout Silver Award. Natalie Porter, Tiffany Wenzel, and Emily Richards created a gaga ball pit at their local park.

The Girl Scout Silver Award can be earned by Cadette Girl Scouts who are in sixth, seventh, or eighth grade. The goal is for girls to identify an issue in the community that they care about then develop a sustainable project that helps to solve the problem. The goal is to find the root of the problem and create solutions that will have a lasting impact.

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. Originally they proposed a wooden pit to their 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 also running a bottle drive. Local businessman,  Keith Wrisley of LJ’s Remodeling, Inc., saw their bottle drive and donated the remaining cost of the project, as well as some building materials. Hilton-Parma Parks & Recreation also donated a concrete and rubber base to further ensure the project would remain low maintenance and sustainable. The girls were also able to add an ADA door to the pit so children of all abilities could access the pit and enjoy the game. The gaga ball pit is located at the Parma Town Hall.

The girls’ troop co-leader, Melissa Wenzel, stated, “We are so proud of the girls. This project had its challenges, and the girls got discouraged at points, but they persevered and were so pleased when the project was finished!”

Their other co-leader, Chrissy Porter, added, “The girls could not have completed the project without the generous sponsorships they received. The girls had a vision but it was the support of the town and our donor who made it possible.”

Girl Scout Tiffany Wenzel said, “The project was difficult but I had a lot of fun planning and working toward the final product. 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.”

The Girl Scouts wanted to thank everyone who assisted with the project through donations and support.

Tom Venniro, the Hilton-Parma Parks & Recreation Director, stated, “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. The troop came to me back in May of 2019 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 and 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.”

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