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Disabilities Awareness MB

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Has any scout in your troop completed this MB. I see problems in the req.s




Spend fifteen hours within a three-month period in one of the following ways:

Visit a Cub Scout pack or Boy Scout troop that works with Scouts with disabilities. Learn about their activities, assist the leaders, and work with the members of the group. OR

Enlist the help of your unit leader and the parents or guardians of someone with a disabling condition and invite the disabled individual to join your troop, team, or post. Help him or her become a participating member.


The first option, working with a troop, assumes there is a troop or pack that does this work specifically (perhaps they only mean a troop that has a disabled member). We have a Special Needs District but they only have 2 events a year. Hardly 15 hours.

The second option seems contrived. I'd hate to have boys inviting disabled only to fill a req.

Any ideas? How do you work this? The theme for our troop in November is Disability Awareness and we'd like to offer the badge as well.


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This can be a real problem, we had one boy talk to a girl class mate who is nearly blind for reuqirement 2. The resulting crush shook the boy up, he was trying to get a merit badge and she had had attention paid to her by a boy for the first time. He didnt know how to respond to her reaction. This taught us all a lesson to be sure everyone knows whats going on.

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My point exactly, I want the boys to be doing this for all the right reasons. Still........ working with a troop that works with the handicapped or is it a troop that works with one or more handicapped scouts. Can't tell if that has to be a focus of the troop.

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I am not an authority on the Disability Awareness MB but I do work with the disabled and counsel on this badge.

This is one area where I would use my creativity and look to the intent of the badge and this requirement. Basically, I see it as a way to encourage the scout to observe and experience what it is like to be disabled, either in a scouting situation (a troop or pack)or otherwise.

If there is no such troop where there are disabled scouts, then I would counsel the scouts to observe, interview, or speak to parents, teachers, or advocates for the disabled, if not the disabled themselves.There are organizations in every state working with the disabled. Visiting a home or day program for the disabled could be an activity if done respectfully and with preparation given to the scouts. (I see the "crush" situation that Grey Eagle mentions as unique.)

As for the "enlistment" aspect, I see that as secondary and only if appropriate to your troop or the wishes of the disabled individual or his family.

Hope this helps. In my experience, awareness of disabilities can be a humbling and rewarding experience for any youth. Thanks for doing it.

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I've never had any scout work on this merit badge, but the troop has done quite a few Disability Awareness programs over the past few years, inside the troop and out. The requirements of the badge seem pretty daunting when; 1) There is no such troop nearby, and the nearest troop with a disabled scout is nearly an hour away, and 2) As "yarrow" thought, the second requirement does seem contrived to us. Some feel that it amounts to nothing more than a "hunt" for the handicapped for recruiting. Quite frankly, the scouts in the troop have more interest in learning from those who happen to live nearby, even if they don't qualify for membership in a troop. We did investigate the requirements for our awareness programs, but were not happy with them. So...we pretty much ignore the merit badge, for we feel that it's poorly written and focused.

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We have had a few scouts earn this badge. I'm with onebearscout, use some creativity to complete the reqirements as they are intended.


The BSA has a long history of allowing Leaders to modify requirements when the requirements are not possible to complete due to certain constraints.


We ignore the OPTIONAL enlistment requirement. In a perfect world it is a noble goal to make the program more accessible to those who otherwise would not have an opprotunity to participate. The reality is that kids being kids, they want the badge and will do what is necessary to earn it and in that particular case it not only is contrived it is CRUEL.


As for working with a Troop or Pack that has disabled Scouts. Looking at all the requirements this is the only place that asks the scout to work with the disabled. I would think that if a scout could not find a unit that fit that description it would be acceptable to volunteer his time at an agency that works with the disabled.


Heck, get the whole Troop to volunteer and Shazamm, you are now a Troop that works with the disabled.


I think the main reason for working with a troop with disabled Scouts is that it shows the scout how different the world is for a person with disabilities in terms that the scout can instantly relate to. For example, Jimmy tied a Square Knot to join Scouts. John doesn't have hands or has extreme difficulty using his hands, how did he tie the knot to complete the requirement? Jimmy's troop went backpacking last weekend. John's troop has scouts in wheelchairs, can they backpack? If so how is it different?



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The requirements of this badge are much easier to achieve than the previous posts suggest. This shows an ignorance amongst leaders as to what really is a "disability".


1) any boy who has been diagnosed with ADHD has a disabling condition.

2) mental retardation

3) Autism and it's many subcategories

4) Asthma and other lung conditions

5) Heart conditions


Too often we look for the conditions that are easily visible, but forget the less obvious ones. How many boys do we have out there that would benefit from the program but do not join because they are ashamed of their "disability".


To find out more, visit with your local independant living center, state vocational rehabilitation office, and school district.


This is one area where my pack and troop are both fortunate. They have a scoutmaster with hearing impairment, and a cubmaster in a wheel chair. They do not see the impairments because we do not let them get in the way. Yet they are real, and cause difficulty in everyday life.


If the only reason a boy invites another is to earn the badge, you are right that the motivation is bad. However, the invite should come IN SPITE OF, not because of, the disability.


In our city, EVERY non-mormon unit has disabled scouts.


Paul Johnson

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Paul is right on about ADHD. In our Cub Scout pack I personally know of a few kids with ADHD. As a parent of a child with ADHD, I have him in scouting as a way to channel some of the energy he has. Also, it gives him a safe place to succeed when at times he feels he can't at school. That positive self-esteem and attitude are carrying over into school. I know other kids in the program who are there for similiar reasons.


I would recommend talking to Cub Scout leaders and parents about what the scout can do. Don't make a big deal with the cubs that they have a "disability".


As a den leader, if I was approached about helping a scout with this, I think I would have the scout help with a den meeting or two, not telling him who has a "disability" and then afterwards talk to him about could he tell and how some disabilities are obvious and some aren't. And just because you have a disability in one area doesn't mean you can't do other things. Also, talk to him about how the parents and leader can adjust the Cub Scout requirements to fit the boy. Kids with ADHD often have problems with writing, so sometimes "lists" are better done orally. The Cub Scout Academic & Sports book describe some ways to alter that program for boys with disabilities.



There are also other learning disabilities that children have. Some may have speech problems or diabetes (is that a disability?). Many times the scout leaders are not aware of learning disabilities, because parents don't tell in fear of the boys being labeled as "stupid" by the adults and other boys.






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Paul said;


"This shows an ignorance amongst leaders as to what really is a "disability".


My friend, I've had boys with every condition you listed, in my troop, and then some. About the only condition that has not presented itself to us, is a boy in a wheelchair. I probably am far more aware of these things than you, and I take considerable exception to your notion that we out here are "ignorant" to the realities of disabilities.


I suggest you re-write your post.


I stand by my previous post.



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You are EXACTLY they type of person that has made living with disabilities a living hell for me.


Untill you live with a disabiling condition, as I have, for more that 26 years, you cannot understand what it is to be disabled. In the last 2 years I have gone from relatively stable health to having my health care team "politely" suggest I start planning for "my future", including hospital bed and possible home care by licensed care givers.


I may be new to scouting, however when I read the requirements of the badge, I thought there were overly easy. But then, I completed Woodbadge at a totally non-accessible camp in a wheelchair, and all my ticket in about 9 months. It is the first merit badge my troop looked at (part of my ticket), and they could have easily accomplished the items in a very short time.


I have lived with a mentally ill father and a brother with mental retardation my entire life. My first employment was as a nurses aid in a home for children with developmental disabilities.


My entire highschool sophomore year, and about half my junior year, were spent as an inpatient at the Childrens Hospital, Madison, Wisconsin. When I should have been learning to date, I was spending time with kids that never left the hospital alive.


Although it is possible you have been through all this, it is very unlikely.


I stand very strong by my assessment that most scout leaders are ignorant of what really does constitute a disability. (sctmom is very correct that diabetes is a disability - I can give you all the first hand scoop of what it is like to be a diabetic of less than 2 years, with good control, and having multiple organ failure or other related problems).


A few months ago Scouting magazing had an excellant article on disabilities. I believe it should be required reading for EVERY leader.


As for the requirements being "contrived", no more so than many of the other merit badges, or rank advancements in Cub scouts.


I could easily continue, however will ask that you look up the definition of "ignorant". It means that you lack knowledge. All of us are "ignorant" of many things.


My experience with scout leaders throughout this and surrounding councils should give me an insight into what most leaders are like. They are generally intelligent and care about boys. However they do not have a clue when it comes to disabilities unless they have 1st hand experience of long standing with a close friend or relative. Not even my closest friends really understand what it is like, only how to help given certain situations.


jc, you need to re-read your own post and reconsider your words.


Paul Johnson

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I did not want to get into "comparing disabilities" in order to provide any proof of knowledge, but in that you've opened that door, I'll tell you that I'm quite epileptic, and since Vietnam have had only one hand. I do think that makes me a little more of an expert on disabilities than many. For you to suggest that many of us have no idea what disabilities are is insulting, at best. While true that we can not be in your shoes, some of us do, in fact, know exactly what we're taking about.


That's as much reconsideration as I will give to my post, and as much "change" as you will see.

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Our Troop has a boy who is usually confined to a wheelchair, although he can go a few yards in a walker. He also earned 12 merit badges over the summer.


When our troop goes to summer camp, our Committee Chair, who is a Pediatrician, always has two foot lockers, one for her gear and another for the presription drugs she must dispense, with a heavy percentage on ritalin like drugs.


Then there is my son. He recently made Eagle. He is ADD, Dyslexic and was born with a urinary tract defect. He has had to endure approximatley 10 major abdominal operations.Since age 10 he has not urinated thorough his penis. For awhile he had his ureters (tubes that drain the kidneys) connected to his colon. He would defecate and urinate at the same time. During this time he never missed a single campout unless he was in the hospital with recuurent kidney infections, and went backpacking many times. Believe me, thats not an easy burden for a young scout to bear.


At age 14 (he is 16 now) the physicians took what was left of a poorly formed bladder and part of his colon and his appendix and created a new bladder with a dry stoma opening to the outside. He must cath the stoma every 3-4 hours with a straight tip catheter and at night he sleeps with a urinary drainage bag.


He has been a patrol leader for 2 years, was a patrol leader at the National Jamboree and got to parade with his contingent winning patrol flag down by the stage and is presently the Senior Patrol Leader of our troop.


Here is one extremely non-ignorant scout leader about disabilities and it sounds like there are many others like myself. We dont spend time talking about our scouts disabilities, we are helping them advance and work through the challeneges they face

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Paul you raise an interesting point as to what is considered a disability. I have been in troops as a scout and an adult with boys and leaders that fit everything on your list. But I certainly would not describe most of them as disabled. With that list being the criteria one would think that it would be harder to find units that did not work with the disabled. Many of us think only of physical disabilities or ones with obvious visual characteristics.


Many of the items listed I never considered a disability because all the scouts I knew who had those conditions never let any of it stop them from doing everything the rest of us did. So we never treated any of the guys with those conditions any differently than anyone else. It was a non-issue to us. If any of these conditions kept scouts from participating we never knew. They just skipped an outing. We wouldn't notice because we had so much going on that it was difficult to do everthing we did, disabled or not.


I have never personally taught the badge but I would have great difficulty defining who is and who is not disabled. My wife is diabetic, my brother developed cerebal palsy as a child and my neighbor has no hands, trust me, not one of them is disabled. Yes certain things in everyday life have different levels of difficulty for each of them but I certainly can not has that their respective conditions have disabled them.


Is disability just a matter of perception or degree?

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Mike, you may have hit on a point. As much as I normally dislike PC terms, and the over all concept of Political Correctness, the movement may have one good point. The term disabled is supposed to be replaced with the phrase "other-abled" and I beleive this does fit the people I seen discussed here.


Now, just because I like one PC term, dont any of you think I am going soft.


Paul, you commented that in your area all non-mormon troops have disabled kids, can you expound on that?

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Mike, I agree with you. But, I have to go a little further (and risk Paul's wrath, and possibly some others). I have been reading these posts carefully. My heart goes out to everyone who had to endure the pains and trials associated with the various disabilities described in this thread. My family has really been blessed. No one in my immediate or extended family has ever suffered a loss such as a hand or another limb. No one has suffered from an injury or disease that impaired their ability to walk. None of my sons have the type of illness that OldGreyEagle's son is enduring. For this I am so ever thankful to God.


However, all of my sons' have had asthma (mostly mild). At least one of my sons has ADD. ADD is a subject, which we could probably discuss for quite sometime. Personally, I'd bet my bottom dollar that I have this disorder. It's not that I don't sympathize with those who have this problem, but I wouldn't put ADD or asthma in the same category as the other disabilities. For my son or I to say, "I am disabled", while standing next someone in a wheelchair is ludicrous.


As for ADD, when I grew up in the sixties, we didn't get Ritalinusually a scolding and/or a slap on the back of head did the trick. We weren't able to focus any better, but we were usually able to behave long enough to keep the teacher sane. Now, I realize that last statement probably didn't go over well, but it's the way it was. Of course, this "treatment" didn't fix anyone's problem, but I have to wonderIs Ritalin fixing the problem? I find it difficult to believe that these kids are going to outgrow the need for the drug as adults. As a child, I had very strong problems maintaining my focus. To a much lesser degree, I still do. As I grew older, and recognized my problem, I found ways to compensate for it. If children deal with the disorder through the use of drugs, I fear that they won't develop methods and means of their own. In other words, they'll be dependent upon the drug to keep their focus. I have to believe that Ritalin is a short-term fix, not a long-term solution. At the very least, I'm convinced that it is an overly prescribed drug.


OldGreyEagle, your son's story really touched me. His courage is an inspiration and you must be very proud. It's kids like that, that give Scouting a good name. I think of his suffering and struggle, and I am overwhelmed. The presenter of his Eagle badge should be an extremely humble man. Your son is in my prayers.


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