Thanks to a superb idea from some students and the generous contributions of local volunteers, there’s a fun new addition to the grounds of Stettler Elementary School.
Two Gaga Ball pits have been set up, and will no doubt provide plenty of fast-paced action for local youngsters.
According to Gagacenter.com, Gaga Ball is described as a high-energy sport played in an octagonal pit.
“The more players the better! The game is played with a soft foam ball, and combines the skills of dodging, striking, running, and jumping, while trying to hit opponents with a ball below the knees.
“Players need to keep moving to avoid getting hit by the ball. Fun and easy, everyone also gets a serious workout.”
Games move quickly, too. And once the game wraps up, everyone is back in for the next round.
The game can be played by a group of individual players or with teams, as well as in one-on-one matches. Rules, ball types, pit surfaces, and pit sizes can vary widely at different venues.
“There is one pit for the Grades three to four students and one for the Grades five and six students. A few of the Grade four students got together and approached the principal and put together a little proposal to initiate this,” explained Tersha Stevens, who is a parent of two students at the school – Quinn and Kaysen.
Kaysen was one of those who brought the request forward along with his friend Zach Kneeland.
The school promptly gave the project the green light and several parent volunteers got together this past weekend to set up the pits.
“We have a lot of great volunteers, parents and kids out here to help, and some of the staff from the school, too,” she added.
Tersha explained that several schools in the area have pits already, including Camrose and Donalda. “So it’s just something we didn’t have in Stettler, and the kids were really excited to get it going,” she said. “It’s just such a cool, new thing!”
As for Kaysen, he first discovered Gaga Ball at Circle Square Ranch near Halkirk.
“When you are hit below the knees, you are out – so you then go outside of the Gaga pit,” he explained. “You also want to stay jumping from side to side so that you can escape the ball! If they hit you above your knees, you are still in.”
Kaysen and Zach say having about 20 kids in the pit is ideal.
“I went to my teacher and I got permission to have meetings with the principal,” said Kaysen. “So we started having meetings to talk about it.”
Today, the guys are thrilled to see the pits become a reality for their fellow students, too.
“I hope this brings fun and happiness,” said Kaysen, adding they first got the idea for the project around the end of March.
Zach also said he loves how great the feeling is to be the last man standing on the court.
“You can also bring some friends together and it’s quite easy to play,” said Zach, adding that he was first introduced to Gaga Ball at Bar Harbour Camp near Buffalo Lake.
“I like the competitiveness of it, too.”
Sharon Fischer, principal of Stettler Elementary, said that Zach and Kaysen approached her along with several other students to ask about launching the project at the school.
“I said, that sounds like an amazing idea! Let’s do it. They had some ideas about fundraising, too, like a walk-a-thon,” she said, adding that unfortunately, some of those ideas didn’t work out because of the COVID-19 restrictions.
“But then Kaysen proposed a bottle drive,” she explained, adding that it turned out to be a big success.
“Before we even had the trailer, Kaysen had collected $300 on his own,” she said. “The community pitched in, and brought in $1,400 worth of bottle as well. So there has been lots of help. Tersha and her husband have also taken on a huge role with this, and we’ve had some discounts and donations.”
Parents on the school council also kicked in the rest of the money for the project and the gang was good to go.
“Here we are on a beautiful Saturday – and the courts will be up in no time.”
Fischer pointed out that it’s terrific to see the kids taking such initiative as well.
“One of the things that I have loved about our ‘Leader in Me’ program is instilling the fact that every person in our school is a leader. They’ve all got leadership skills, so they are encouraged to use those skills to come up with ideas like this.
“To have these boys pop up out of the blue and say, ‘Hey, can we do this’ is just fantastic.”
In the meantime, things at the school have been going quite well in spite of the ongoing challenges the pandemic has brought.
“I feel like our most resilient people are the children – they come to school everyday with smiles on their faces,” noted Fischer. “They’ve been doing great things in the classrooms and great things in the school.”