A split-rail fence would appear to have no relationship with a swimming pool, but there is a common thread in that each has brought special recognition to two Mount Airy youths.
When Matthew Dowell was looking for a service project to complete as part of requirements for his Eagle Scout Award, the search led to Westwood Park, a city recreation facility on Galax Trail.
It would involve removing and replacing more than 1,000 linear feet of split-rail fencing at the park that opened in the 1980s.
Matthew enlisted the help of fellow members of Troop 538, based at First Baptist Church, for the effort — thus fulfilling a planning and development requirement of the Eagle Scout service project.
“This is a significant improvement at Westwood Park,” Mayor Deborah Cochran said of the work Matthew led. In addition to the labor supplied by him and fellow scouters, “gracious donors” are credited with making the fence replacement a reality, Cochran said.
Matthew’s project also was judged to have met the Eagle Scout Award criteria by providing a great benefit to the community as well as exemplifying quality leadership.
As an eighth-grader at Mount Airy Middle School, he is one of the younger scouts to attain Eagle Scout status, which fewer than 3 percent of Boy Scouts achieve.
Meanwhile, Sydney Peavy took a different path to gain the Girl Scout Gold Award, which often is compared to the Eagle Scout honor.
Sydney, a junior at Mount Airy High School, embarked on a service project based on making swimming safer.
Since she has been at home in the water from a young age, that was a natural choice for Sydney. In addition to becoming a certified lifeguard and water safety instructor, she has swam competitively, including for the MAHS team and the local Reeves Rapids squad.
“I’ve been swimming for as long as I can remember,” Sydney said. “It’s just been a big part of my life and I thought I would just like to share that with everyone else.”
Her project focused on children, including leading water safety and drowning-prevention classes and providing free swimming lessons.
Sydney also organized a photography fundraiser and a letter-writing campaign and solicited donations to provide more than $500. It was donated to the Reeves Community Center Foundation to be earmarked for swimming lesson scholarships.
The student’s efforts not only qualified her for the Girl Scout Gold Award, but brought recognition from the National Make-A-Splash Foundation.
“She’s a great person,” city Parks and Recreation Director Catrina Alexander said of the concern Sydney has exhibited for others.
Both Sydney and Matthew received certificates of appreciation for their efforts at last week’s meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners.
Mayor Cochran called them “inspirations to young people everywhere.”
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.