An idea is becoming a reality for a group of Bethel Girl Scouts, proving kids can accomplish big things with passion, hard work and determination.
About a year ago, the five active members of Troop 50711, all 8th graders at Bethel Middle School, began brain storming about how to earn the Silver Award, the highest award a Girl Scout Cadette can earn. The purpose of the award is to improve the community in a long-lasting way.
"The girls are dog lovers and they came-up with the fact, 'You know what? Our town does not have a dog park,'" explains Lynn Galvin, co-leader of the troop, who thought this was a lofty goal but urged the girls to go for it. They began researching by visiting Newtown, where a similar park was recently constructed. They attended town meetings and made a presentation to the First Selectman. They faced stumbling blocks and some adversity along the way but continued to persevere, fueled by the project.
The received approval from the town and embarked on a marketing campaign to help the Parks and Recreation department raise $10,000 for the Bethel Bark Park to be built at Meckauer Park. The girls sold bandanas and even made a YouTube video.
"They've helped raise $5500," says Galvin, explaining they are even closer to their goal, thanks to a local business that recently donated costly fencing. The project is still in need of elements, such as signs and water stations. But, the girls hope construction on the Bark Park will begin in the spring and, perhaps, even be expanded in the future.
"My co-leader and I are just extremely proud of their leadership skills and the amount of hours that they put in to make this goal happen. We're also so appreciative of the community's acceptance and support," says Galvin, noting the positive partnership the troop has with Bethel's Parks and Recreation Department.
"It's really made a huge impact on my life to be part of this project. I feel, for generations to come, people will enjoy this dog park," says 13 year old Audrey Garcia who has two canine companions. "They'll have a close place to go and get exercise and socialize with other dogs."
"We were very interested in the topic," explains Katie Galvin, also 13. "We saw it go through so many stages and we went to a lot of town meetings. So, it's pretty cool that this is actually happening!"
The girls have been together as a troop since Kindergarten. "We call ourselves The Fierce Five who have been there since the beginning," says Garcia who can't wait to see the actual dog park, alongside her closest friends. "We started and we finished. We really stuck with it and I'm proud of us."
For donation information, contact Bethel's Parks and Recreation Department.