Watervliet girl on crusade to beautify playground

August 30, 2016 09:06 PM

WATERVLIET - School may start next week. However, one young girl in Watervliet still has playgrounds on her mind. That’s because she wants to make hers better.

Sophia Shark, 12, passionately believes that children who play at the Brotherhood Park in Watervliet deserve better.

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"That slide has a lot of graffiti on it, if you look under it and it has a lot of bad words," she explained.

In addition, Sophia sees exposed tree roots, broken glass and woodchips as a constant safety threat.

"Kids are running. Sometimes they fall. Then, they get all the woodchips in their leg. Sometimes, they trip over the black stuff," she pointed out.

"I think that, you know, conversation with them growing up here in Watervliet and being at the park, they saw a lot of things that could be improved because we also go to the Crossings. Seeing a difference between here and the Crossings is huge," noted Tonya Ross, Sophia’s mom.

While Sophia wanted to make her neighborhood playground better and safer for other children, Tara Burke wanted to make sure her online company,, was a socially conscious company. Burke offered money to anyone with a community betterment idea. Sophia won the $1,000 prize money.

"We love Sophia’s giving spirit. We just think it’s contagious and we really hope that when people see the park and when it’s brand new and kids are playing on it and smiling that they think about it and see that one act of generosity can really make a difference," noted Burke.

"I wasn’t surprised," admitted Ross. "She is a giver. She’s always been a giver since she was a little girl."

Ross says she always tries to make sure her kids are thinking of others.

"I’m very proud of that girl every day. Every day, she amazes me. I don’t think I could be any more proud," beamed Ross.

For now, more fundraising is needed, but Sophia is hoping her community spirit becomes contagious, so they can reach they $8,400 goal.

More information:

Freely Clothing: Sofia's Dream Playground


WNYT Staff

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