Getting a leg up on good health

Girl Scout's project helps kids stay healthy
By Marcia Tate | Jul 24, 2014
Photo by: Donated GET CLIMBING — Marcia Tate is seen on the climbing wall she built at Bethel Elementary School for her Girl Scout Gold Award project.

Students at Bethel Elementary School will have a new experience in physical activity opportunities when they return to school this year, thanks to ambassador Girl Scout Marisol Garcia. Garcia chose to build an indoor traverse-climbing wall for the school as her Girl Scout Gold Award project. The Gold Award is Girl Scouting’s highest recognition.

Garcia completed the wall the week after school was out this year and has taught the students attending summer camp at the school how to use it.

Two years ago, Garcia, a member of Girl Scout Troop 30250, was chosen to attend a session of Outward Bound.  She loved her rock climbing experience.

“I think everybody should get to try climbing,” Garcia said.  “It is so much fun and is such good exercise. If kids could do stuff like this, they would be more active and we would have less problems with overweight and obesity.”

She decided to build the wall at Bethel when she realized it was the only elementary school in the county that did not have one. She named her project ASCEND — Advancing Students Climbing, Exploring New Dimensions.

Garcia started her project last July when she first met with Bethel’s P.E. teacher and assistant principal to get approval for the project. During the meeting, she was asked if she could paint a mural on the wall, which measured 8 feet by 32 feet. Though she’d never painted a mural before, Garcia agreed to do it.

She got permission from the superintendent and board of education, and then got approval from the Girl Scout Gold Award Committee.

ASCEND was funded by contributions from the Waynesville Kiwanis Club, Lisa Ferguson with Edward Jones, Central United Methodist Church in Canton, the federal Physical Education Program Grant, and in-kind donations from the Haywood County Schools maintenance department.

One year and 130 hours of labor later, she was able to put the kids on the wall. In addition to climbing routes for the students to enjoy, the wall has on it the words for the eight character traits taught by the school system — caring, responsibility, honesty, respect, courage, diligence, trust and kindness. Her mural is a picture of the sun shining over the mountains.

“I wanted it to look like what the kids see when they look out the window at their school,” she said.

Cyndi Blankenship, Bethel’s P.E. teacher, said she is thrilled with the beautiful new wall and feels that it will add a great new dimension to physical activity for her students.

Marisol is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jesus Garcia, of Clyde, and is a senior at Pisgah High School. She has been a member of Girl Scout Troop 30250 for 12 years and has completed numerous badges and awards along the way, including the bronze and silver awards at the junior and cadette levels.

Not only is she grateful for this opportunity for herself and the children.

“After doing something this grand, I feel like I can accomplish anything,” she said.

Marcia Tate is the leader of Girl Scout Troop 30250.

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