Volume 5 Issue 8
March 1999


Judy Polak, sent me an article she has written on Working With Scouts With disabilities (WWSWd). Thank You Judy

Working With Scouts With disabilities. WWSWd

Planning a disAbility Awareness Night in your pack can be a rewarding experience for you and your boys. Incorporating this into your program follows the Ethics in Action program and reinforces the character-building goals that have always been part of the Boy Scout program.

Because boys at Cub Scout age are often faced with conflicting messages that sharply contradict the positive values taught in their families, packs that incorporate programs that teach awareness, tolerance, respect, understanding and kindness can play an important role in combating the peer pressure boys face.

As you begin planning a disAbility Awareness Night, consider these things:

  • Check with your council offices to see if they have a professional assigned in this area. If they do, it could be an invaluable resource.

  • Check with your District Advancement Chairman to obtain the names of the Disability Awareness Merit Badge Counselors. Many of them are professionals in the field and are more than willing to assist.

  • Check to see if their is a Cub Pack or Boy Scout Troop in your area that has some of these special Scouts. Remember, for their rank advancement, disAbled Scouts must meet the same requirements as all others. Perhaps they are working on their Communications or Public Speaking Merit Badge and would take the opportunity to assist you.

  • Your local hospital may have education programs and could provide instruction and explanation to the Scouts. They also have resources available.

  • Your council rep, MB counselor, or hospital worker can also obtain copies of materials from some of the local organizations that you can distribute. If this is your first time, please be aware of the sensitivity of others. Some of your Cubs may be introduced to disAbility awareness for the first time. It is important to make them aware that Scouts are: Courteous, Helpful, Friendly and Kind...

    Go to http://www.main.org/boyscout/mpwdisab.htm and take a look at what Troop and Pack 49 have done to make their Scouts aware. Perhaps you can obtain some similar literature for a handout. You may also want to visit the Working With Scouts With disABILITIES website at http://boyscouts-marin.org/wwswd/wwswd.htm . This is a site run by volunteer Scouters who believe that every boy deserves the opportunity of Scouting. The WWSWd site is undergoing some enhancements and improvements, so be sure to check back often. While much is made over the use of ³politically correct² language in our society, teaching our Cubs that their words can hurt is essential. These words are suggested to teach your Cubs words that do not hurt those they are trying to learn to be empathetic toward: enAbled, disAbility, disAbled...not handicapped, wheel chair enAbled...not wheel chair bound. Equally important to language is our attitude toward equipment: wheelchairs, crutches, braces, walkers, etc., are the tools of the disAbled, not toys. Some suggestions for Disability Awareness stations:

    • Wear glasses that have been smeared with Vaseline to simulate impaired vision.

    • Place cotton in the ear to simulate deafness. (Make sure an adult supervises this so that more problems aren¹t created!)

    • Tie both legs together to simulate walking problems. Use a walker.

    • Have different sayings from the wolf/bear book were written out in sign language for one scout to do - the rest of the den had to figure out what he was saying. The den did get a copy of the sign language alphabet to help them.

    • Make a braille board with dots of hot glue on a piece of cardboard - again different scout sayings were used - cheat sheet was available.

    • Use a Balance board, a circular board with an x below also circular, to simulate inner ear problems. (see teeterboard jousting in the How-To Book)

    • Wrap 2 fingers together to simulate a broken finger then tie your shoes.

    • Use a pair of crutches or a walker to go through an obstacle course.

    • Place a strip of printed material in front of a mirror. Have the scout write what he sees in the mirror.

    • Write your name with the opposite hand you usually use.

    • Try to stack pennies on a table while wearing heavy winter gloves to simulate having difficulties gripping things.

    • Stuffing several giant size marshmallows in Cub's mouth, and then ask him a number of questions about himself, his family, or say the Cub Scout Promise or Motto. When the Cub isn't understood, the station leader asks questions to try to understand what he is saying. This simulates having a problem with having your speech understood & how frustrating it can be.

    • Tie one arm around the chest and try putting on a button-up shirt...using only one arm. This activity was done at a Cub Day Camp by a Boy Scout who only has one arm. He had a good time showing others the difficulties that having one arm can create...although, he functions a lot better than most people who have both arms!

    • At a Cub Day Camp a blind man's maze was set up, using wooden timbers to layout the maze. Each Cub was blindfolded, given a stick to tap out his way, and turned loose in the maze. Wow...was that a site to see! There were usually 3 or 4 Cubs in the maze at a time....bumping into each other, and wandering out of the maze.

    • Type out the Cub Scout Promise and the Law of the Pack on computer, then use a font to change the words to symbols such as MT Extra, Mobile, Cairo, Webdings, Symbols, Zapf Dingbats. Have the boys figure out what they say.

    • Another obstacle course idea is walking through the rungs of a ladder with crutches. Crutches could be purchased at a local thrift store for under $2.00 a pair or borrowed from a health care professional or hospital.

    • This game simulates vision challenges. Fill a bowl with pony beads and add 1 or 2 slightly larger different colored beads. The object is to pick out the larger bead of a specific color. The boys will always pick up one of the larger beads, but not necessarily the right color.

    • Additional exercises are suggested in the Ethics in Action section of the Cub Scout Leader How-to Book.

      These games are designed to give the boys the chance to experience the frustrations faced daily by people with disAbilities. They are not necessarily games that have winners, as being aware of disAbilities is the real prize.

    Add to your experience by sharing the story of Eagle Scout Daniel Collins who has cerebral palsy and is anAbled with the use of a 3-wheel, squeeze trigger wheelchair. Daniel is definitely a role model for a lot of Scouts as he completed the same requirements for rank advancement. To read the entire article, go to http://www.phillynews.com/inquirer/98/Dec/07/city/CBADG07.htm

Since its founding in 1910, the Boy Scouts of America has had fully participating members with physical, mental, and emotional disAbilities. The first Chief Scout Executive, James F. West, had a disABILITY. Thanks to these scout leaders who contributed suggestions through Scouts-L:

Cyndy Tschanz, Webelos Den Leader, Den Leader Coach, pack 255, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, tschancl@aramco.com.sa

Colin M. McConnell, District Advancement Chair, Northridge District, Detroit Area Council, Detroit, Michigan colinm@rust.net

Jerry Bowles, Bear Den Leader, AspenDr01@aol.com

Trudy Freeman, Cubmaster Pack 205, Anchorage, Alaska

Materials found in Baloo's Bugle may be used by Scouters for Scouting activities provided that USSSP, Baloo's Bugle and the original contributors are cited as the source of the material.

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