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Children's Book About Special Needs - Blog

 

 

Filtering by Tag: girl scouts

The Kids Are All Right - How The Girl Scouts Came, Saw, and CONQUERED

Adiba Nelson

My. Cup. Runneth. OVER. 

WAY OVER. 

There is so much happening in our world today that gives us pause when it comes to our kiddos. So much that makes us hug them a little bit longer when we drop them off at school or read one more story when we put them to bed at night. We have to worry about our kids being shot at trying to get to school or being shot at once they're at school. Will they follow the crowd and bully kids that are different from them, or will they remember the things we've taught them and be leaders? 

Well, if what I experienced with 25 Girl Scouts is any indication, I want you to know that the kids are all right. Really, they are. 

Last Saturday I had the honor of leading the Girl Scouts For ALL Inclusion Program, and it was INCREDIBLE. Twenty-five girls from all different troops, ranging in age from 5 to 14, all working together to understand what inclusion is, what it looks like, and how to make it a part of their own lives. It was amazing, eye-opening, and at times lump-in-my-throat inducing. These girls get it - in so many ways. And if they are our future, I assure you that good things are yet to come.

These girls were kind, generous with eachother, but most of all CREATIVE. They thought so far outside the box when asked to adapt toys and games so that every kid could play with them. One little girl even called my bluff when I put supplies out that didn't go with the activity - she adapted those too! And it was all adapted with either super-glue or sticky tabs!

I could wax poetic for hours about how great the program and kids were, but I'd rather show you. Check out this AMAZINGNESS!

Behold, an ordinary Etch-a-Sketch and some hooks.

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Put them together you get THIS magic! Now someone who has poor fine motor control, or issues with dexterity/low muscle tone can turn the knobs more easily and make etch-a-sketch masterpieces! 

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On their own, a bouncing ball, a rattle and a puck light are just that -  a bouncing ball, a rattle and a puck light. 

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But put them all together and VOILA! Now you have a ball that makes sound (for our visually impaired friends) and a ball that lights up (for our hearing impaired friends)!  Who says kids with special needs can't play ball?!

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They also added a "handle" made out of pipe cleaners so that someone could pick up and throw the ball if they wanted to, but maybe couldn't use both hands!

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This next one was my absolute favorite! It involved SO MUCH creativity and ingenuity! I think we have a future Occupational Therapist in our midst, folks! I presented the girls with a simple, fun Fisher Price Doodle Pro and informed them that if someone didn't have hands, or had a hard time controlling their movements they might have a hard time clearing the screen, or holding it on their lap. Well let me tell you - they knocked my socks off! Here is what they started with:

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Now watch this AMAZING video to see how they adapted it!

They also turned a brush upside down to hold a bow-making kit, added pipe cleaners to sidewalk chalk to aide in holding it in your hand, and came up with a whole list of ways you can play with a jump rope that don't involve jumping (for our friends using mobility devices)! 

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So you see, the kids are all right. They are brilliant. They are kind. AND if we keep doing our part, they will remain inclusive. HUGE thank you to the Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona for allowing me to turn a once negative encounter into an incredibly beautiful event where we all came out better in the end. What are some ways you and your kiddos have adapted toys or games so that everyone could participate? I'd love to see what you've come up with!

If you'd like to bring the Girl Scouts for All Inclusion Patch program to your troop, send an email to info@clarabelleblue.com, and we'll be in touch with you soon!

From Tears to Troops: A Girl Scout Story

Adiba Nelson

How many of us remember being in the 1st or 2nd grade and the permission slip being passed around to join the Girl Scouts? I totally do! I was so excited to be a part of this thing that I had no knowledge of, but the pictures of the girls on the flier had them all wearing matching uniforms and all I knew was that I. WANTED, IN. 

Fast forward 30 years and my Emory was a mini-version of my own six year old self, squawking excitedly and waving the girl scout flier sent home from school in her hand. To say my girl was excited was putting it lightly. She looked kind of like this:

Via Giphy.com

Via Giphy.com

Yeah...that's pretty accurate. And how could I blame her? She got her own vest that SHE got to accessorize with pins and patches - it was like a fashion dream come true for her. And truth be told, I was pretty excited too! I remembered being a Brownie and going on nature hikes, and doing arts and crafts, and making some of my closest elementary school friends. It was going to be rad - and since it was being offered at her school, which is inclusive, her educational aide would be with her to help her with activities and it was going to be great! Three finger salutes and high fives for days! 

Except it wasn't. 

Without going into great detail, I soon found out that the troop leaders were not acting inclusively, and basically leaving Emory to work with just her aide - not the other girls in her troop. When it was time for the pinning ceremony, this continued, with me having to walk her through the ceremony instead of being able to enjoy watching it like other parents. My ire was high, and I left in tears. For a long time I refused to have anything to do with Girl Scouts, asked them to stop emailing me, and advised that we would never participte in another GS program. 

I guess the universe had other plans though because a year later I ended up face to face with the Chief Operations Officer of our local Girl Scouts organization. I ended up telling her about the issues I had with the troop that was led at Emory's school, and she was as aghast as I was. She couldn't believe that was happening within the troop and ceremony because it did not align with the Girl Scout values. She asked if I'd like to speak more about it, but my mama ire hadn't fully subsided yet and so I declined. But again, the universe was like...

via Giphy

via Giphy

Months went by - almost a full year really, and I kept thinking about it. There was a nagging to do something about the experience, and so I picked up the phone and called the COO. I finally knew what needed to be done. I needed to turn my tears into triumph and bring the full concept of inclusion to my local Girl Scout organization. I proposed bringing the story of Meet ClaraBelle Blue to their youngest troops, with the possibility of building it into a patch or badge program. My gut told me that if I could get the kids on board, the adults would follow, because let's face it, as adults, we can be dense at times. She went for it, and the VIA (Visibility, Inclusion, Accessibility) patch program was born.  

 

To say that I am proud of this collaboration is an understatement. I almost missed an opportunity to continue my work as an advocate for inclusion, behind hurt feelings and anger. But in my gut, I knew that if this happened to my Emory, it happened to someone else's Emory. I instinctively understood that the actions were likely not intentional - they just didn't know better, and I am of the belief that when you KNOW better you DO better. So, here we are, a full two years later, collaborating....turning tears into troops. I'll be leading an inclusion workshop for troop leaders, writing columns on inclusion and inclusive activities for the Girl Scout newsletter, and leading the VIA patch program with the Tucson Daisies, Brownies, Juniors, and Cadettes. I couldn't be more excited about this venture with Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona and for their openness and commitment to inclusion for ALL girls. Sometimes, when we get past our feelings, the universe shows us how to BE the change instead of waiting for the change to just happen.

Are your kids scouts? Were you a scout? What were some of your favorite things to do?