Girl Scout brings nonverbal Communication Board to Moncus Park

Girl Scout Luna Bowles stands next to the newly installed Communication Board, a large colorful board with numbers 0 though 9, the alphabet and words like "hungry", "thirsty" and "tired".
Girl Scout Luna Bowles stands next to the newly installed Communication Board. Lisa Bowles

Moncus Park’s vibrant playground echoes the Atchafalaya Basin. Its huge live-oak treehouse overlooks a splash pad where children climb over an alligator statue that “breathes” water arches from its abdomen, and the remaining play area consists of a custom ground cover design reminiscent of Louisiana swamps.

The design isn’t just playful, its inclusive, featuring designated areas for younger and older children. The tree house offers a sturdy ramp that is ADA compliant.

Fifth grade Girl Scout Luna Bowles resonated with that mission for inclusivity. With help from her mother Lisa Bowles, UL Speech, Language and Hearing Center Clinical Supervisor Katie McQuitty Hays and Moncus Park Services Director Chelsea Roberie, she successfully led a campaign to install a sign with illustrated language to aid children who communicate nonverbally. 

Bowles’s journey began with aspirations of climbing up the Girl Scout ranks. As a Girl Scout Junior, the next achievement required to become a Girl Scout Cadette was a Bronze Award. That would come through creating a meaningful community service project with a lasting impact.

She reached out to Moncus Park to inquire about what outstanding projects might need an extra hand in completing. Park administration responded with a “wish-list” aimed at enhancing both the park’s infrastructure and the visitor experience. While the list included things like trail improvements and the construction of new footbridges, the communication board caught Bowles’ eye.

She got to work right away, taking the grassroots route and starting at home.

“I ran around my neighborhood asking for sponsorships and after we raised a lot of money, about $1500, we got a matching grant” from the Pinhook Foundation, says Bowles. 

Note: Pinhook Foundation has provided financial support to The Current. See a list of our major funders here.

The board now sits prominently in the playground area, and Bowles has already seen it become a useful tool for children at the park. It features words like “hungry”, “thirsty” and “sick” alongside the full alphabet and numbers. Children point to the words or letters to communicate.

“I remember the first day I came here and saw it installed. I saw little children using it and it just made me feel so happy. I spent a lot of time on this and it’s just really fulfilling,” she says.

Bowles plans to continue to be active in her community and in Girl Scouts, but the project she’s already tackled has left a lasting impact. She wants inclusivity to be a driving force in the ways that all parks organize themselves.

“I would encourage all parks to be inclusive  like Moncus Park because I feel like it’s really important for children to get a park experience because that’s something that all children deserve to have.”