Time was when kids and teens didn’t need to be told about the value of play – as in physically engaging in healthy activity.
But as social media and television lure too many youngsters into couch potato status, the 16 members of Ahwatukee Girl Scout Troop 2188 want to change that mindset among their peers.
As a project for their Silver Award – the highest Cadette Girl Scouts can achieve – the troop has set up a Get Up! Get Out! Go Play! Day.
And they’re hoping that local businesses and residents might help them make it a smash.
They need donations for part of their four-pronged project that will come to fruition with a free event 2-4:30 p.m. Oct. 20 at the Arizona Regional Volleyball Facility, 7100 W. Erie St., Chandler, behind Spiral Volleyball on 56th Street between Ray Road and Chandler Boulevard.
Open to boys and girls 6-18, the event will introduce kids and teens to various sports and activities and provide them with healthy living tips from some of the fitness=related sponsors they’ve already enlisted for their effort.
Karen Meinerz, a Realtor with Keller Williams Sonoran Living Realty, is the troop’s leader as well as the Ahwatukee Neighborhood facilitator for the Girl Scouts–Arizona Cactus-Pine Council.
She said the girls came up with their project after learning that Arizona kids between 10 and 15 years old rank in the top 10 nationally for obesity.
“All of these girls are very active in the community and love sports,” she said, explaining why they decided to convert some of their more sedentary peers and “leave a lasting impression on them to motivate them.”
They’ve recruited food trucks, community sports organizations and businesses and medical professionals “to help us spread the word and continue to focus on the healthy living and developing healthy habits now,” Meinerz said.
A onetime Girl Scout herself, Meinerz said the girls – mostly Altadena Middle School eighth-graders and one Desert Vista High School freshman who have been together as Scouts for seven years – have developed an elaborate game plan for the day.
The overall event is being hosted by Tatum Meinerz, Tatum Willis, Charlotte Gibson and Noelle Wagner.
The remaining 12 girls formed three quartets that have activities that are either related to the event or that will be promoted during it.
For example, Scouts Ginger Money, Leah Harris, Christina Lyons and Abbi Parks are running Hydration Station, selling bottled water for $1 to cover costs but also distributing a pamphlet they’re creating on the need to drink enough water.
Scouts Emma Girten, Sofia Sanchez, Kristine Porter and Naeha Ravikumar will be promoting their blanket project, collecting old but clean bedsheets they can turn into cat blankets and give to animal rescue shelters. Arizona Animal Wellness will be on hand at the Go Play event with kittens and cats ready for adoption.
The final quartet – made up of Scouts Lola Money, Emma McClain, Zaniyah Hagler and Grace Calhoun are undertaking a project to help children and teens who actually may not be able to play because they’re too busy trying to survive.
Those four Scouts are collecting backpacks and assorted things to fill them that would be given to foster children.
All too often when Child Services removes a child from an abusive home, the kids have virtually no time to collect any personal belongings.
“The backpacks would be appreciated – nicer ones not super-expensive ones, ones that will last to carry personal belongings— a change of clothes, pajamas, toiletries, playing cards, a journal, colored pencils, socks, undergarments,” Meinerz said, adding that they’ve reached out to some nonprofits but haven’t heard from any yet.
In the past, the troop has staged other events like a fashion show and holiday toy drive, but Meinerz said they “wanted to reach out and share a variety of sports and activities that their peers may not be able to normally try or even know are out there.”
“It was a mutual brainstorming idea and our volleyball club was very instrumental in providing such a large venue for us to host the event,” Meinerz added. “The girls are also asking for used sports equipment to be donated – leave one, take one and try new things – and whatever is left will be given to the Kyrene Foundation.”
Meinerz said the Scouts want to lure kids off the couch and expose them to the benefits of fun activity.
“Playing a sport and being active, getting out of the house, off of your phone, playing with friends – all of this helps manage the stress and anxiety kids feel today,” she said.
The vendors that the troop has lined up are helping the girls cover the cost of the venue.
“We are not making any money off of this event as it would defeat the purpose of our mission,” Meinerz said.
Music Makers Workshop will have a drum line. Aspire Kids Club members perform gymnastics. Spiral Volleyball will open two courts— one with volleyball skills and one with games and competition. Pro Edge Performance Training will provide agility exercises. Excel Sports will provide some basketball dribbling activities and skills challenges. Ultimate Kombat Fitness will show kids defensive moves. The Chandler Police Department will talk about safety and Valley Pediatric Dentists will discuss healthy habits for teeth.
Anyone who wants to help the girls with donations should contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.