LIVINGSTON, NJ — After first being honored at the Girl Scouts Recognition and Bridging Ceremony at Heritage Middle School for receiving the coveted Girl Scout Silver Award, Harrison Elementary School student Rhea Joshi was recognized by the Livingston Township Council for her service project to enhance the safety of those crossing North Livingston Avenue by installing four new signs on the existing traffic light in front of Harrison Elementary School.
Joshi, of Troop 20302, explained that when her troop leader introduced the Silver Award—the highest award that a Girl Scout Cadette can earn—she wanted the girls to consider something they felt passionate about that would also benefit their community. Joshi said her first thought was how to improve the safety at the crosswalk in front of her school.
“This problem was important to me because when I was going to school one day, I saw the crossing guard almost get hit and knew I had to do something to prevent it from ever happening,” she said. “As part of the Harrison family, this project was very special to me. With the help and guidance of the mayor, police chief, head of the traffic department and many people at the department of public works (DPW), I was able to achieve my goal and have four additional signs installed at the traffic light.”
She added that she hopes these signs will help keep pedestrians safer when they cross the road.
Not only did this service project push the shy young woman out of her comfort zone by “forcing [her] to talk to people,” it also taught Joshi about problem-solving skills, communication skills and leadership skills, she said.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity to help make the community safer and I would like to thank the town council, the Livingston Police Department, the DPW, my neighbor and mentor Donna Brower and my troop leaders,” said Joshi.
According to Councilman Rudy Fernandez, enhancing the safety at this intersection has been in the works for nearly 15 years. It began with community efforts to install a traffic signal on the county road, he said, and now with the extra signage, Joshi has enhanced the safety even further.
“It is us, the council and the entire town of Livingston, who owe you a thank you for what you have done to keep our town safe and to keeping it safer than it was,” said Mayor Ed Meinhardt as he presented Joshi with a citation commending her for her efforts. “You went out of your comfort zone to talk to everybody and you did a wonderful job and we congratulate you.”
According to the Girl Scouts of the USA, the Silver Award gives young girls the opportunity to show that they are a leader who is organized, determined and dedicated to improving their communities.