The complete renovation of the Abilities United playground for Early Intervention children was the focus of a local Redwood City Girl Scout Troop project.  The eight girls each invested over 65 hours in creating a fun, interactive, and safe playground.  Their efforts earned them unanimous squeals of delight from the children who now have a more colorful and attractive place to play, as well as a Silver Award, the highest honor that can be earned by scouts in the junior high age group.   A dedication event, including the Girl Scout Troop, children and parents, was held on Friday, October 12 at 5:30 pm at the Abilities United location at 3864 Middlefield Road in Palo Alto, CA 94306

The Girl Scout Troop considered a number of community projects to work on, selecting a playground at Abilities United used by young children with and without disabilities.  The girls painted the fence and created decorative murals, including two murals where children graduating from the program will place a handprint upon completion.  They also built and decorated a playhouse that will include custom-made cabinets to store toys.

Throughout the process, the Girl Scouts had to learn about children with disabilities and ensure that the environment took into account their special needs.  This was reflected in their work with a sensory and a sound mural board to help engage the children with sensory challenges, while others created drawings with characters in wheelchairs.   All the money needed for supplies, exceeding $1,000, was raised by the Girl Scouts through a series of fund raising events.

Tim Harper, Associate Director of Abilities United  Children’s Services commented, “Our agency’s playground serves a critical role in the social and physical development of our children.  The creative renovation effort by this group of talented Girl Scouts was such a generous display of giving back to our community.”

When asked about their experience, the girls were universally excited with the results.  Some of their comments:

“As a community, it is our job to help these children grow up to be the best they can be,” said Julia Triest.

“I discovered how good it feels inside when you do something that’s going to help someone,” said Briana Das.

“I discovered that I enjoy helping and working with people who have special needs,” said Sarah Rodriguez-Soto.

“I gained skills such as teamwork, setting and achieving goals, public speaking, and how to work with people who supervise me and who I supervise,” said Megan Weaver.

According to Christine Stabile, Troop Leader for Troop #32071, “It has been wonderful to supervise these girls throughout this project, and watch their determination to overcome the challenges inherent in such a complicated project.  They had to push themselves beyond their usual comfort zone to interact with new adults or take leadership of others.  Their eagerness and dedication is reflected in this wonderful new playground.”

The eight Girl Scouts involved in the project are: Avelle Campbell, Briana Das, Giselle Hernandez, Sarah Rodriguez-Soto, Gabriella Schuhe, Mikayla Stabile, Julia Triest, and Meagan Weaver.

A short story regarding this accomplishment was published in the Sal Pizarro column of the Mercury News on October 17.