Columbiana student going for gold | News, , Jobs

Columbiana student going for gold | News, , Jobs
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Columbiana senior Elizabeth Siembida poses at The Chalet, the home of Girl Scouts International in Adelboden, . Siembida is working toward a Gold Award, the highest award a Girl Scout can achieve and is asking for help to achieve it. (Submitted photo)

COLUMBIANA — Elizabeth Siembida is going for gold.

The Columbiana senior is currently working toward the highest award a Girl Scout can achieve — the Gold Award. To earn the award — equivalent to an Eagle Scout — a Girl Scout must identify a problem, strategize a plan to address it and conduct 80 hours of community service to execute the plan. The process is referred to as a “take action” project.

Siembida’s project focuses on inclusivity in sport — an area where athletic ability is typically required and the lack of it can be polarizing. Siembida’s idea is to bring Gaga ball to Columbiana Middle School. Gaga ball is a simple game with simple rules that practically anyone and any number of children can play. It provides a level playing field for all players, regardless of athleticism or even physical abilities. It fosters inclusion, acceptance and self-esteem while promoting exercise and sportsmanship.

“This project is important because it’s something I would have loved to have on the playground when I was younger,” Siembida said. “I was able to play Gaga ball while on a school trip to Camp Fitch, and I have loved the game ever since, which is also what led me to decide that I should have a Gaga ball pit put in place on the playground.”

Siembida set out to see if the middle school students agreed. The students’ feedback was positive, so was the feedback from the members of the community who will also have access to the pit.

“I surveyed the students who attend the school and got a large amount of students wanting a Gaga ball pit,” she said. “This pit will be able to be used by more than just the school. “Anyone from the public will be able to go to this pit and use it.”

Gaga ball could be best described as a tamer, gentler version of dodgeball played inside an area contained within some type of “walls”.

“For those who may not know, it’s an octagonal-shaped ring or pit,” Siembida explained. “The point of the game is to be the last one in the pit. The way to get other people out is to hit them below the knee with the designated ball.”

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According to sportresourcegroup.com, a game of Gaga ball begins when one player throws the ball up in the air and allows it to bounce three times. Each time the ball bounces, the players shout out “Ga” — hence the sport’s name. Players then hit the ball with open hands (they cannot grab and throw it). If the ball touches a player below the knee, that player is “out.”

Siembida recently received approval from the Gold Award Committee to move forward with her project. Typically, Gold Award projects take up to two years to complete, but time is not on Siembida’s side of it.

“Being that she is a senior in high school, she is on a tight deadline,” her mother and troop leader Crystal Siembida Boggs said. “She has to raise $10,000 for the all weather composite material pit that has an ADA accessible door and have the project completed and approved by Girl Scouts before Sept. 1.”

To raise the funds needed, events are in the works as award criteria prevents sales or online fundraisers. Siembida has applied for a grant from the Columbiana Community Foundation and held a haircut fundraiser at the Barbershop of Columbiana with $2 for every haircut going to her cause. Siembida plans to reach out to other area businesses.

Meanwhile, members of the community wishing to donate can send donations in the form of a check or money order to Girl Scout Troop 80777, PO Box 557, Columbiana, Ohio 44408.

Siembida, a resident of Leetonia, has made girl scouting a prominent part of her life. She and her mother represented Girl Scouts of North East Ohio at the 56th National Convention held in Orlando, Florida in July 2023. National Delegates serve a three-year term and are responsible for being the link between Councils and the National Organization and helping to promote the Girl Scout Movement. The mother-daughter duo traveled to Adelboden, Switzerland in 2022 and participated in a pinning ceremony at The Chalet, the home of Girl Scouts International.

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