Shea Polley (front and center) stands with her team after the opening of the Sensory Center at Livingstone Academy.

By Debra Garcia

Seventh-grade Girl Scout Shea Polley was given her Silver Award for her sensory/fidget toy center project at the Livingstone Academy Autism Center.

Polley is 11 years old and comes from a family of Girl Scouts, with both her mother and grandmother still active in the Girl Scouts. So, she takes all her awards and projects very seriously. She started in kindergarten as a Daisy and as of her eighth-grade year, she will be a Cadette.

It all started when Polley wanted to start working on her Silver Award project, which needed to be 50 service hours. Polley’s passion for her friends with autism and fidgets gave her the idea for her project.

She began researching and working on her project. She first met Chris Pello, owner of Livingstone Academy Autism Center, and Kristin Lisi, executive director of Livingstone Academy Autism Center, to discuss the idea of a sensory/fidget center for the school. Polley quickly created a Facebook page for DIYs on how to make fidgets at home.

On June 24, Polley hosted a DIY/donation day 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Livingstone Academy. This was an opportunity for people to come make homemade fidgets/sensory toys for the students at the school. Polley made 180 DIY sensory toys that day. She then created an Amazon Wish List for friends, family and the community to purchase sensory and fidget toys for the project, receiving over $800 in donations from the list.

Her next task was contacting six CEOs of sensory/fidget toy companies. Play Visions let her know it has sent a huge box of sensory toys directly to Livingstone Academy Autism Center that will arrive soon. To help the autism center and spread the word of her project, Polley created a brochure. It showed people how the autism community is helped by sensory/fidget toys.

As of June 26, Polley was rewarded her Silver Award, which is the second-highest award a Girl Scout can receive. She went above and beyond with her project, getting 61 hours of community service and helping autistic kids all over the community.

“I have been able to help raise awareness for the autism community and show how fidget/sensory toys can help that community. I have also helped raise awareness for the good things that Girl Scouts do to give back to the community. The one thing I learned the most is, when you are truly passionate about your project, it doesn’t feel like work but an exciting goal to help others,” said Polley.

For more information, check out Polley’s Facebook page about her project at Girl Scout Silver Award Project Sensory Center for Livingstone Academy.

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