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NEWBERRY – Two eighth grade girls recently completed a special project at Newberry Elementary School and at the same time earned a Silver Award from Girl Scouts of America. According to Troop Leader Lori Hilman, the Silver Award is one of three higher level awards in Girl Scouts.

Becca Noble, 14, of Howard Bishop Middle School and Brooklyn Hilman, 13, of Lincoln Middle School are both members of Girl Scout Troop 2177, High Springs. Spurring the girls into action was when they saw a Sensory Path online and thought creating one for elementary school-age children would be a perfect project for them.

A Sensory Path is a series of guided movements for kids to follow by markings on the ground or walls. As students follow the path and complete the movements, they work off excess energy and develop their gross motor skills. The various movements on a path are often designed to engage different parts of the body and brain, from frog hops to spins and wall pushes.

These paths can be especially effective for students who experience frustration, anger or other sensory overloads during a learning activity. “Sending them out to the hall to work off some of those emotions can help them re-focus when they return to their desk,” said the troop leader. “It’s an opportunity for kids to take a brain break and work out the wiggles.”

The pair decided to create their Sensory Path using comic book heroes as their theme to help engage the children in the various activities. The girls chose this particular project because, “We really like helping people,” said Brooklyn. “This seemed like a fun way to do that. Some kids have a difficult time focusing and we thought this would be a great way to help with that issue,” she said.

“All the kids that experience the Sensory Path are able to learn better because of this sustainable resource,” said Becca.

It took an entire year for the girls to plan the project, raise the funds to buy the materials, get approval and physically create the project. The pandemic also slowed things down a bit but, said Brooklyn, “It took a lot of planning to get all the elements just right.” The layout itself took approximately 10 – 15 hours to accomplish.

Some of the elements of their Sensory Path are handprints on the wall so kids can place their hands on the prints and do pushups, footprints on the floor so kids can walk like a super hero and a tall building painted on the wall so kids can jump up to save someone on top of the building.

“We also added a really cool tracing thing on the wall to help kids develop their fine motor skills,” said Becca. “At the end there is a section where the children got to fly like a super hero, which is really empowering and shows them they can do anything,” Becca said.

“It took the girls more than 70 hours to do the project,” said Troop Leader Hilman. “It came out great and the kids love it at the school.”

Explaining the various levels of Girl Scout awards, Hilman said, “Bronze Awards are for fourth and fifth graders and their project has to do with doing something in their community one time. It doesn’t need to be a sustainable project. Silver Awards are for girls in sixth - eighth grades and has to do with a more sustainable community level project. “The next level award is a Gold Award, which is for seniors. This is an award that has to be earned by one girl. It has to be sustainable and help more than just their community,” said Hilman.

Each project has to be approved by the Girl Scouts of Gateway Council, which serves all of the surrounding communities. The girls had to run their project by the Council, which evaluated the project to see if it suited the criteria before they began. Becca and Brooklyn completed their project this past spring.

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