Jace Campinelli and Olivia Rocchio, two high school students from Wellsburg, West Virginia, were awarded a $2,500 mini-grant to bring their idea for their hometown to life.
The team plans to create a teen space at Brooke Hills Park, using an old boathouse that hasn’t been used for a period of time. They plan to revamp the space, bring in TVs and speakers, and open it up to connect with an outdoor space where they will have activities, such as cornhole, a volleyball court, and even grills to cook food.
Their goal is to create an area for teenagers to hang out in a safe, alcohol- and nicotine-free environment. They also have plans to hold events in the space, such as fishing tournaments, cookoffs, cornhole competitions and more.
“With the endless possibilities this asset could bring to Brooke County, we would love to see teens have a safe, fun and affordable environment to hang out,” Campinelli said.
Campinelli and Rocchio worked with members of the community to gain support and make this project happen. Adam Haught –– the team’s advisor and teacher at Brooke High School –– worked with local WVU Extension agents Norman Schwertfeger and Jason Rine to educate his students on community development and how projects like this can be accomplished and make a difference.
“The boathouse has been left neglected for a couple of years now, but we have some great students wanting to fix it up for kids to have a place to go, and Brooke Hills is all about giving kids a safe place to hang out,” Joelle DeVore, Brooke Hills Park Office Manager, said.
The team also worked with Johanna Weiler at the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle, who connected them to countless community leaders and taught them how to communicate and work with those officials.
“My favorite part of this project was connecting the students with the community outside of the classroom, like the decision-makers and community leaders,” Haught said. “They got an overview of how a city and county are run, and it was neat for them to be empowered -- to see that although they’re still students, they can still go out and improve their community and be a force for good.”
In addition to receiving funding from WVU Extension, this project also was awarded $2,500 from the Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle and $1,000 from the Wellsburg Kiwanis Club, bringing their total to $6,000 to complete this project.
Brooke High School’s Future Business Leaders of America Club, of which Campinelli and Rocchio are both members, will assist in renovations to help make this idea a reality.
Registration for the next round of the My Hometown is Cool pitch competition is now open, and applications will be accepted until December 15.
“West Virginia youth are creative and driven to help grow their communities, and we are excited to see the broad and diverse ideas students from across the state submit this year,” Lauren Prinzo, WVU Extension specialist, Community and Economic Development and assistant professor, said. “Our team hopes that through this project, youth will see themselves as changemakers, innovators, and investors in the future of their hometowns.”
To register your team and request an entry packet, complete the registration information on the My Hometown is Cool website.
To learn more about WVU Extension, visit extension.wvu.edu or follow @WVUExtension on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.
CONTACT: Sydney Keener