Local students are – well going gaga for Gaga.
At least that is the case at both Yorkdale Central and Columbia schools where gaga pits have been installed in the playgrounds.
Gaga is a game that is believed to have originated in Israel, spreading to Australia, the United States and beyond during the 1970s and 1980s.
Gaga is essentially dodge ball played in a small ring, the gaga pit.
The ball is thrown only underhand, and if the ball hits you on the knee or below, you’re out. Last person in the ring wins. There are a few more rules, but that’s about it.
Jason Gordon, principal at Columbia School said they initially saw that Yorkdale was creating a Gaga pit.
And then they started hearing about the game from students who had played it at a summer Bible Camp.
“We thought let’s give this a try,” he said. “We saw the idea and jumped on it.”
Gordon said they were actually looking for outdoor activities after a student survey indicated “one thing they wanted was more outdoor activities at school.”
Shaune Beatty, Principal at Yorkdale said they were also hearing from students about the game, when a survey asked “what can happen at the school so that it’s better.”
Admitting that initially he was not aware of what a gaga pit was, Beatty did some online research, and after finding that it was “safe and appropriate,” they decided to build two at the school.
“Within two days the grass was extremely worn out,” he said.
As a game Gaga is something that can be played by virtually all ages, said Gordon, adding in terms of players it is really how many can fit in the pit. They focus on classrooms so that might mean 14, or 25 head into the pit for some fun.
“It gets everybody involved,” he said, adding like most games it gets more competitive “down to the end.”
Beatty said the limited amount of rules is a plus as students can ‘organize’ and run themselves.
Gordon said gaga has been a hit at Columbia School.
“It’s definitely exceeded our expectations,” he said, adding students are already lobbying for a second pit to be built.
It’s the same story at Yorkdale.
“It’s been non-stop use,” said Beatty, adding the pits which cost under $1000 are getting more use than play structures costing 13 or 14K.
Even after school the pits are being used. Beatty said one weekend he and his family stopped in to try the game themselves and ended up playing for more than two hours.