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Stettler Elementary gets “Gaga Ball” pits with student, volunteer and local business support May 19, 2021 @ 1:19 pm

A new addition to the Stettler Elementary School Playground was completed in the outdoor space west of the school last weekend. The “Gaga Ball Pit” completion was made possible with the help of several local businesses, a dedicated group of volunteers, and was all started by two grade 4 students who had played the game at local summer camp programs.

Zachary Kneeland was introduced to Gaga Ball at Bar Harbour summer camp, while his friend, Kaysen Stevens, played the game at Circle Square. The Stettler Elementary students’ grassroots effort to get the game to their school started when Stevens, Kneeland, and their fellow classmates and supporters made the initial request to their teacher. Their suggestion was that the addition of the game would give students more options for recreational activities, so their teacher arranged for them to take the proposal to the school’s Principal, Sharon Fischer.

Once the proposal was accepted, the boys started raising funds beginning with their summer break efforts of $350, which then grew by another $1440 through a school-wide bottle drive. Fundraising is general up to parent groups who then turn the funds over to the school. In this instance, Fischer says that the school was able to do the fundraising themselves. They set a date, broadcast it via their social media and website, and set up a trailer on the school grounds for people to bring their bottle donations to. She also credits Tersha Stevens, whose son was one of the students to lead the charge, for doing a great deal of the organizing; arranging for the materials to be delivered and ready when the volunteers arrived.

The original plan had been to build one pit, however it was later decided that two pits would be better, as they could be set up in different spaces and used by various grades. With the school’s already staggered recess schedule due to COVID, the pits are able to be used by students as long as it is one pit per classroom ‘bubble’. The new Gaga Pits at the Stettler Elementary School were built with local businesses and volunteers who started the groundwork and construction this past Saturday at 9am and had everything up and in place by two o’clock that afternoon.

Gaga is similar to dodgeball, but is played in an enclosure called a Gaga Pit. Play is a mix of dodging, striking, running, and jumping, and the winner is ‘last man standing’. Players hit the ball at each other with their hands, and are only allowed to hit the ball one time. If the ball hits an opposing player below the knee, that player is then ‘out’. The hexagon-shaped pits have ten-foot lengths on each side, with a gravel underlay and rubber cover for the floor of the pits. The game originates from Israel, and is already gaining popularity at summer camps, and schools. Donalda School also has Gaga Pits on their school grounds.

“I was really impressed with the students who organized, and pushed to get the pits. We really appreciated the community support.” -Sharon Fischer, Stettler Elementary School Principal

Carson Ellis, Reporter


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