Cherry Valley fourth-graders plan upgrades to playground

Sarah Eames | The Daily Star The existing playground behind the Cherry Valley Community Center is shown Thursday, Dec. 31.

Planning is underway to expand the playground in the village of Cherry Valley.

Cherry Valley fourth-graders Bailey Thayer and Zola Palmer partnered to plan and design new playground elements to be situated in a field adjacent to the current playground behind the Cherry Valley Community Center.

“We started by thinking of things that Cherry Valley needs to help it be more attractive. Then we started thinking about things that would attract people to Cherry Valley,” Bailey said. “Then we thought about building our playground better.”

“We wanted to make our town more interesting for families so that more of them would come and support the local businesses,” Zola said. “To make it more interesting, we thought that we could add more equipment to the playground. We are not making a new playground, but adding to the old one.”

The playground contains three slides, a pair of baby swings, eight regular swings and a few climbing elements. The park is also home to the community soccer and Little League teams and a basketball court.

“When you go to our playground it’s the same stuff, there is nothing new to play on,” Bailey said. “We thought that designing new equipment would make it more fun.”

The girls said they hope to add a handicap-accessible swing and a ninja course, the latter of which “will help our community members stay active and stay fit and healthy.”

The project counts toward the Girl Scout Bronze award, the first in a series of three and the highest honor a Girl Scout Junior can receive. Similar to a smaller-scale Eagle Scout project for Boy Scouts, the Bronze Award is designed to encourage Girl Scouts to “team up to make a difference in their community, … learn important leadership skills, discover new passions, and watch how seemingly small actions make a big difference,” according to the organization.

“We currently have five Junior Girl Scouts in our troop,” Bailey said. “Since everything is being completed virtually now due to the pandemic, it is difficult for all of the girls to complete steps for these awards.”

The troop members hope to complete their Bronze Award projects together, Zola said.

The pair said they are still in the research phase of the project and are preparing to request permission to build from the Cherry Valley village Board of Trustees.

“We are also working with our leaders to learn about grants that might be available for projects like this,” Bailey said. “If there are any community members that know of grant opportunities, or have experience writing grants and might be willing to donate their time for this project, we would be really excited.”

Those interested in volunteering or supporting the playground project are encouraged to complete the troop’s survey online at tinyurl.com/surveyGSPP

“We plan to build the new playground with community volunteers, which is how the existing playground was built,” Zola said.

The girls raised $250 toward their project by selling homemade hot chocolate and mulled cider in downtown Cherry Valley last month and are continuing to collect donations at gofundme.com/f/the-cherry-valley-girl-scout-playground-project.

“I feel proud that one day I will have created part of the playground kids will be playing on,” Zola said. “It can show other kids that if they believe in themselves they can do anything.”

Sarah Eames, staff writer, can be reached at seames@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7213. Follow her @DS_SarahE on Twitter.

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