By Katherine Fhu
Have you spotted the bright blue box by the playground recently? You might be surprised to find out that it was constructed by a group of power-tool wielding 8th (soon to be 9th) graders!
Over this past year, Maya Driscoll, Mina Bostwick, Natalie Barney, and Katherine Fhu from Girl Scout Troop 71627 built a book swap box for their Silver Award project. They hope to help kids read more often and encourage them to do so instead of using electronics. The completed box can be found at the playground near the Bedford Town Center Building. The book box is targeted towards elementary school children and their parents, who can take a book and donate one in its place.
The girls decided to pick a book box as their project because as technology improves and children get more access to screens, reading books is being neglected. Their hope is that this Silver Award project will spark children’s interest in reading and educate them on the disadvantages of electronics versus the benefits of books. To name a few, books provide kids with free entertainment, they improve concentration, increase empathy, reduce stress, and enhance creativity. These traits are fundamental for success.
Many parents give children screens for entertainment when they get bored of other toys, but in reality, books are much more beneficial. Electronics, on the other hand, are more harmful than helpful. They can cause vision problems, sleep deprivation, loss of social skills, and even anxiety or depression. More information can be found at this website, which the girls created to support this project. By promoting reading at a younger age, kids can be exposed to a better entertainment option, which can be recreation for any age. Maya, Mina, Natalie, and Katherine hope that Bedford kids will learn to choose books over screens.
Throughout the process of creating the book box, the girls had help from Bedford’s supportive community. The Bedford Cultural Council approved a grant for supplies; local roofer and contractor Sean Tierney taught the girls about roofing and donated roofing materials; the Bedford Hanscom Girl Scout Service Unit has pledged to help with future maintenance of the box; Bedford DPW Director David Manugian and DPW Grounds Operations Manager Dennis Freeman helped to find a suitable location and agreed to help with installation; DPW employees Gary Pike and Derek O’Rourke installed the post.
Minutes after the early-morning installation last Friday, the book box saw its first customers. Zach and Luke Wardley were excited to find the structure full of books while walking to summer camp! Hopefully, many more friendly faces will pay a visit to the newly installed box!
Editor’s Note: The Bedford Cultural Council is a local agency supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency that funds the arts. To learn more about the Bedford Cultural Council, click this link to visit the Cultural Council’s page on the Town of Bedford web site. There are currently openings for Bedford residents interested in serving on the Cultural Council, and the Council’s FY2018 grant season will open on September 1 and run through October 15, 2017.