By Andraea LaVant, Inclusion Specialist, Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital
What do you get when you put together 25 girls, crafts, food, games, and PASSION?! Why, one of many Girl Scout experiences, of course!!! GSCNC brought together 25 middle and high school girls for Camp Starfish, our first-ever camp for girls with disabilities. This camp served as one of many milestones this year that marked our continued efforts to include girls of ALL abilities in Girl Scouts. The event culminated in a lively red carpet “Passion Show” for parents, friends and guests.
As we continue through the month of October, and what has been deemed National Disability Employment Awareness Month, it’s an ideal time to highlight the significant strides we’ve made as a Council with regard to our inclusion efforts.
GSCNC, and Girl Scouts as a whole, finds itself uniquely positioned. Our all-encompassing commitment to ensuring that every single girl has an opportunity to become a leader makes including girls with disabilities a natural part of who we are and what we do. GSCNC has made an increased effort to include girls with disabilities. This has meant providing interpreters for troop meetings and events for girls who are deaf or hard of hearing, making our camp sites more physically accessible to those with mobility needs, and training leaders and girls on how to work with girls of all abilities. Each year, we have the hosted Keys to Leadership Conference, which allows teen girls to participate in a variety of empowering, fun-filled activities and topic-focused sessions, including “Recognizing/Embracing Your True Self” and “Disability Etiquette & Breaking Down Stereotypes.”
On June 9, as more than 250,000 people gathered to “Rock the Mall” to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Girl Scouts, nearest the stage were some of the most enthusiastic Girl Scouts of all! This area provided our Americans with Disabilities Act accessible seating, where individuals who indicated need based on disability were able to sit for the duration of the show and enjoy the day’s festivities.
These highlights, along with our continued trainings and support for Girl Scout staff, leaders, girls, and councils across the country; our popular Including ALL Girls and Shooting Beauty Patch Programs; our increased requests for sign language interpreter services; and a host of other endeavors to include girls of all abilities in Girl Scouts, continue to make GSCNC an inclusion leader among Girl Scout councils.
Thanks to continued support from funders like the J.W. Marriott Foundation, Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation, and the HSC Foundation.