Girl Scout troop donates Dr. Seuss benches to Head Start playground
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West Grove, PA – Sam-I-Am would love to eat his green eggs and ham on the Head Start playground, preferably seated on one of the Dr. Seuss-themed benches built by Girl Scout Troop 427.
In an effort to promote literacy, nine young women from Avon Grove High School donated two benches inspired by “Green Eggs and Ham” and “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.” They chose to champion literacy in completing the prerequisite of the Gold Award known as GIRLtopia, which is described as their chance to imagine a perfect world for girls.
In a nation where 42 million adults cannot read, the cause of literacy is a relevant one. The benches serve to bring the girl scouts’ vision to reality, fostering a love of reading that begins on the playground.
“It is all about focusing the girls on what makes the world a better place for women and girls,” said Kim Carlin, the troop leader. “They very quickly zoomed in on the problem of illiteracy as being a cause that they felt very strongly about.”
The connection between the Girl Scouts and the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU), which operates the Chester County Head Start program, came in the form of Bonnie J. Wolff, CCIU Board president, who also happens to be the Girl Scouts’ local service unit manager. There was no child-sized seating to be found on the Head Start playground at the Technical College High School (TCHS) Pennock’s Bridge Campus, which made the girl scouts’ idea – complete with Spanish and English translations of Dr. Seuss words – the perfect addition.
Each year, over 450 economically disadvantaged children in Chester County participate in the Head Start program at various locations throughout the county. The program, which is federally- and community-funded, aims to provide preschool-aged children with the same experiences as their peers before beginning kindergarten.
According to Deborah Hertzfeld-Miller, Chester County Head Start supervisor, the project was truly a community project with beneficial learning experiences for both groups.
“The Head Start program had the opportunity to learn about a local Girl Scout troop and the great projects they are involved with, and the troop was able to gain awareness of the Head Start program and what it strives to do in the community,” said Hertzfeld-Miller, who added that the project also provides socialization between the two groups as well as between the students who will utilize the benches.
“The girls decided to build the benches and decorate them in a manner that will hopefully be educational, fun, and colorful for the kids,” said Carlin.
Since none of the girl scouts are contractors, they required some guidance from a scout father, who taught them how to construct the two sturdy benches. They then coated the benches with some bright white paint, and began to have fun adding the design.
“In addition to creating the benches, we also studied the issue of illiteracy and studied the Head Start program in order to share what we learned with a younger troop,” explained Emily Kantner, an eleventh grade student from Avon Grove High School. “Prior to the project I had no idea that illiteracy was such a problem. Learning about it drove my passion even more to work with this project, to make it last, and to make an impact.”
The Head Start students will be able to enjoy the benches as an interactive learning experience that can be utilized not only during playtime, but also during special events like Dr. Seuss week.
“The girls showed great community awareness by including both English and Spanish image translations on the benches,” said Hertzfeld-Miller. “We are so grateful for their work on this project, as well as for the continued relationship they have offered to us by means of taking part in future program activities.”
The Chester County Head Start program provides comprehensive services to children aged three- to five-years old and their families. Services include: preschool, special education, mental health services, medical treatment, nutritional services, parenting education, and more.
For more information on the program, please click here.
Photo Caption:Pictured above (left to right) are members of both troops and their parents: Bottom Row - Olivia Shearon, 5th grade; Sandra Lehr; Abigail Lehr, 5th grade; Katie Kent, 5th grade; and Eliza Wright, 5th grade. Top Row - Kim Carlin, troop leader; Kelly Foraker, 11th grade; Lyndsey Ernst, 11th grade; Emily Kantner, 11th grade; Carly Boardman, 11th grade; Courtney Hannum, 11th grade; Rachel Carlin, 11th grade; Isabel Carlozzi, 11th grade; Sophia Pazmino, 11th grade; Olivia Pazmino, 8th grade; and Ann Marie Carlozzi.