MASON, Ohio — When it came time for Adam Weaver to decide on an Eagle Scout project, he knew he wanted to do something at a school in Mason.
He had worked with a neighbor years ago to help create big chess boards at Mason Intermediate School and loved playing on those as a student there.
“I wanted to do something where other students would get to have that same fun that I got to have,” said Adam, 17, a senior at Mason High School and a Dan Beard Council, Boy Scouts of America scout with Troop 750 of Heritage Presbyterian Church.
“So I had to research what sorts of things do schools look at getting put in, and I was like, oh, there’s this cool sensory path thing," Adam said. "It’s a bunch of stations. They get to jump around, tire themselves out a little bit. And it’s got all these scientific benefits or whatever.”
He emailed Mason Early Childhood Center Principal Melissa Bly about the idea last November.
“I was super impressed,” Bly said, because Adam was considering “all of those needs that really make up the whole child” as a teenager. “Paying attention to sensory needs and being able to give students experiences to have an outlet for sensory needs is something that we pay attention to as a staff.”
The project took off from there. Adam spent months planning the space and the activity stations it would include. He and Bly settled on using one of the school’s interior courtyards as the location, a spot that Adam remembered walking by when he was a student.
That decision meant carrying more than 4 tons of sand, rocks and cement, 3,500 square feet of AstroTurf and 8,000 square feet of plastic weed barrier through the school’s hallways.
Adam won a $4,000 grant from the Mason Schools Foundation to cover the bulk of the project’s cost. He and his team of volunteers completed the courtyard’s overhaul just in time for the start of this school year. The MECC Moves courtyard includes:
· Bear Stomps, where students either stomp like a bear or crawl like a bear;
· Vertical Jump, where students jump as high as they can;
· Leap Frogs, where students jump from one lily pad to another;
· Balance Beam, using a beam painted on the turf;
· Jumping Jacks;
· Wall push-ups;
· Crab walk;
· And a spot for keypad practice, where students can practice entering their student IDs for lunches or their parents’ phone numbers on a keypad painted on a door.
The courtyard also has colorful benches made from recycled tires where students can sit and read surrounding Mrs. Bly’s Magical Rock Garden. Adam included orange “hot lava” rocks, painted shark rocks and warning signs to caution students against playing in the garden.
“He worked hard all summer long," Bly said. "And most of the time, when I would go out and say hello, there was something new he had come up with. Everyone loves it.”
Science and kindness
Buddies Kamdyn Crump and Dallas Meeker said they sure do.
The two second-graders stomped, jumped and skipped their way through the sensory path to demonstrate during a recent afternoon.
“It’s really fun, and it feels like exercise,” Kamdyn said. “It has a lot of fun things to do, and it can calm you down really goodly.”
The crab walk is Kamdyn’s favorite, he said. Dallas said he really likes hopscotch.
“It has all kinds of sorts of stuff that you can do,” Dallas said of the courtyard.
The sensory path is designed to accomplish two goals, Adam said.
“The first one is kind of straightforward," Adam said. "You tire them out. They focus more in class if they’re tired out. The other one is the little bit more scientific one. It helps develop motor skills and something about neurons in brains connecting and that sort of thing.”
The MECC Moves courtyard also reinforces important qualities that Bly said students learn about from the moment they walk into the school.
“Kindness is definitely embedded in those, because we want our students to take care of each other,” Bly said. “It’s one of our core beliefs here at MECC, and it’s just really great that he was able to integrate all of that good learning into his space.”
A sign near the rock garden says: “One kind word can change someone’s entire day.” And the hopscotch game includes blocks painted with the words “empathy,” “optimism,” “resilience,” “persistence” and “flexibility.”
“I think that he is a great role model for our students,” Bly said. “And having been a student who came through MECC, and just knowing that he really wanted to give back, he reflected on how he could best contribute to the school.”
Adam said he learned a lot from the project. He got to use his Boy Scout leadership skills, he said, and learned how to install AstroTurf. But there was an unexpected lesson, too.
“I was really impressed with the generosity of everyone,” he said. “Where like I would say, ‘Oh, I’m working on an Eagle Scout project,’ and it would be like, ‘We can give you a discount on that,’ without me prompting it or anything. I was really amazed by the generosity of the Mason community.”
If Kamdyn and Dallas are any indication, the kids of Mason Early Childhood Center are impressed with Adam’s generosity, too.
When asked if he had a message for the teen who created the courtyard, Dallas got right to the point.
“Thank you,” he said. “And thank you for the place. It’s really fun.”
Acts of Kindness stories appear weekly on WCPO 9 News and WCPO.com. If you know about an act of kindness that you think should be highlighted, email firstname.lastname@example.org.