Building bridges

Published 10:49 pm Friday, August 17, 2012

Suffolk teen Shay Wood, who has achieved his Eagle Scout award, and the fruits of that achievement, one of three foot bridges that will allow wheelchair users to traverse a ditch at the Suffolk Youth Athletic Association soccer fields on King’s Fork Road.

Local Scout earns top rank with project

Suffolk’s Shay Wood hatched a plan to earn Scouting’s top honor and help others in the process at the soccer fields where he referees.

“I noticed not many entrances for the handicapped, so I had the idea to build bridges for them to get over to the fields,” the 15-year-old explained Thursday at the Suffolk Youth Athletic Association soccer fields on King’s Fork Road.

Wood came up with the design himself, he said, and other boys from Troop 30, members of his family and local businesses helped with the rest.

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“It took around three months to plan — there was lots of planning,” Wood said. Then he had to raise about $1,000 for materials, reaching out to friends’ relatives, he said.

He said it took one week to build the three footbridges, “but I had 30 people out here.”

Some grocery stores supplied food to fuel Wood’s team of workers and Lowe’s hardware store gave a discount on the materials, while the actual posts were donated.

Wood, a rising 10th-grader at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy, has been in the Boy Scouts for only three years.

“I just try to get it done and get it out of the way so I can enjoy it more,” he said.

His grandfather was a Scoutmaster, he said, and oversaw the Scouting accomplishments of Wood’s two uncles.

Both uncles made Life Scout, Wood said, but not quite the Eagle rank, “so I wanted to try to accomplish it.”

Wood recommends Scouting heartily. “It looks good on your résumé, and once you are an Eagle Scout you are always an Eagle Scout, and you just remember the things that you learn,” he said.

The teams he referees range in age group from under-12s through under-17s, and Wood is proud to have now contributed something else to the soccer field.

“If I had a disability, I would appreciate being able to cross the fields without having to go through the gravel,” he said.

The teen’s mother, Amanda Stallings-Wood, is also proud. “It think it’s a fantastic opportunity for them as well as the community,” she said of the footbridges.

She said of her son, “You hope they do one accomplishment after the other, and you set them off on the right track. He loves working out here, he really does.”