Scouts with Physical Disabilities
Jay Thal (jay.thal@TCS.WAP.ORG)
Wed, 11 Feb 1998 15:11:26 EST
SCOUTING FOR YOUTH WITH PHYSICAL DISABILITIES NO.
Over two decades ago United States Federal law mandated that children with
disabilities be afforded an education in the least restrictive environment.
This did two things: it required that school districts provide access to full
educational opportunities rather than excluding them from education because
modification of curricula or facilities was inconvenient or costly; and, that
to benefit the children, and to the degree possible, students with disabilities
be included in regular educational settings rather than isolated from their
peers. This later concept is called mainstreaming.
U.S. Scouting has, and continues to have, units which are school or
institutionally based which bring Scouting to groups of youth isolated because
of their disabling conditions. But, Scouting encourages units to embrace all
within mainstream units.
All youth are unique. Each bring different strengths and gifts to the unit.
Each learn from one another, irrespective of their own strengths or gifts.
Scouting should be a microcosm of that idealized society we strive for as part
of our developmental goals.
This is one of a series of brief reviews of U.S. Scouting publications which
provide support, guidance, and direction to units and leaders in the belief
that Scouting and Scouts gain from inclusion. My intention is to share this
information so that Scouters will be encouraged to expand their recruitment
efforts. It will be republished from time to time, or sent upon request.
This is also intended to encourage Scouters to secure the original and complete
publications from BSA, for their own use. The antecedents for many of these
publications date to the mid-1970s. Perhaps BSA will, sometime, publish a list
of them in its annual catalog, as well. Policies or initiatives of other
Nations would be welcome and shared.
Among the publications are:
A Scoutmaster s Guide to Working with Scouts with Disabilities;
Scouting for Youth with Emotional Disabilities; Mental Retardation;
Physical Disabilities; Hearing Impairments; Blind and Visually Impaired;
Learning Disabilities; Exploring;....
This Preamble will be included with each review.
SCOUTING FOR YOUTH WITH PHYSICAL DISABILITIES No. 33057
1996, ISBN 0-8395-3057-9, 34 pages
Scouting is for all youth, some accomplish things differently. One Scoutmaster
wrote: *The big, staggering fact is that it doesn t require (skill or
patience). The kids are so normal, it s almost funny.S
Why is Scouting good for youth with disabilities? Well, they have needs which
Scouting can help fulfil, and it provides others with the opportunity to learn
from their attitudes. Scouting provides physical benefits and teaches all of
us *to recognize a crippling condition as normal and in the nature of
Just what should we know about a youth s disability? There. is a chapter which
addresses the roles of the Parents; the Physician; the Youth; and Teachers and
Advocates. Perceived limitations may tell us more about us than the youth.
Another Chapter addresses issues such as what occurs when a youth joins a
mainstream Troop; will he hold the rest back; and helping the guy next to you.
While there is a chapter which deals with Leading a Special Unit (Pack, Troop,
or Post), many of the the tips on running a program and gaining help from
parents and others can be applied to a mainstream unit. Included are
recommendations on hiking, camping, service projects, and games and sports
(both team and individual).
Chapter 6 describes a variety of disabling conditions and explains them:
Cerebral Palsy; Muscular Dystrophy; Muscular Atrophy; Spina Bifida; Heart
Defects; Limb Deformities; Epilepsy; Brain Damage; Down s Syndrome; and
Guidelines for Membership and Advancement provide an explanation of the
Americans with Disabilities Act and how alternative paths can be developed. A
Checklist of Abilities and Limitations is provided, and can be completed by
parents during the pre-joining conference
Article XI, Section 3, Clause 19 of the BSA Rules and regulations reads, in
part: ...under such rules and regulations as may be prescribed upon
consultation with appropriate medical authorities, registration of boys who are
either mentally retarded or severely physically handicapped...as Cub
Scouts...over age 18 as Boy Scouts, or Varsity Scouts, and registration of
young adults...over age 21 as Explorers, and the participation of each in the
respective advancement programs while registered, is authorized.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City