Schenectady County

New Girls Inc. playground dedicated to female veterans

The goal for Girls Incorporated of the Greater Capital Region’s Albany Street site was to create a p

The goal for Girls Incorporated of the Greater Capital Region’s Albany Street site was to create a place for children to have fun and interact in a safe environment. After numerous man hours and effort, Girls Inc. has reached its goal.

Girl’s Inc. unveiled its newly renovated playground to the Schenectady community on June 24.

“We have kids coming [to the playground] all year long, [at] all different times of the day,” said Ashley Jeffrey, executive director of Girls Inc. of the Greater Capital Region.

“We have parents and grandparents bringing the little ones that aren’t even quite in preschool, so they’re starting to learn to take that one step out of their comfort zone. It does so much to build their confidence.

“With childhood obesity, it gives them a safe place to play outside and it’s open to both boys and girls.”

Not only did the Girls Inc. in Schenectady unveil the playground, but they dedicated it to female veterans.

“Every year we serve hundreds of local girls ages 5-18 with research-based educational programming they otherwise can’t access. And several of our alumni have served or are serving in the U.S. Armed Forces,” Jeffrey said in a press release.

“This honors all of our local military women who have made great personal sacrifices to preserve the freedoms and opportunities we know today.”

The dedication of the playground to local veterans was special to Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D, Rotterdam. Santabarbara is a veteran, having served in the U.S. Army Reserves. He also serves on the Veterans Affairs committee.

To Santabarbara, it is important that the community continues to show support toward veterans and active members of the military.

“To honor women’s veterans means so much in our communities. We need to do more of it,” he said. “Any time you’re honoring people that have the courage to protect and defend our country, they need recognition.”

The bond between female veterans and the girls at Girls Inc. is something executive director Jeffrey wants the girls at Girls Inc. to feel. For her, dedicating the playground to female veterans was an important and impactful decision.

“[Female veterans] are really the true role models for our girls and they have done so much for us,” said Jeffrey. “We hope that we are just as equally a place that Noney [Grier, a Navy veteran and representative for Veteran Affairs who spoke at the ceremony] had said that the military gave her a place to be strong and feel empowered and we want a very similar mission and want do the same thing for the girls here.”

Girls Inc. began the playground rehabilitation on April 20, Global Youth Services Day, when Global Inc. members and community volunteers started by mulching the grounds, removing trash, and defacing graffiti.

The work continued over the past several weeks.

The playground is located at 962 Albany St.

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