Language is important when leading Scouts with special needs

Scoutmaster in front of tentsWe never call Scouts with special needs “special-needs Scouts.” Why, you ask?

That’s because word choice matters, and Scouters on the Disabilities Awareness Committee recommend using person-first language that describes what a person has, not who a person is.

“Even though it does get a bit wordy and awkward in everyday speech,” committee chairman Tony Mei says, “this emphasizes the personhood of the individual and places the disability as a secondary condition that the individual must live with.”

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Scouting is a Special Place

Reprinted from the Spring 2017 Abilities Digest, from the Invisible 411 blog.

Here is a reading that is often used in training to support Scouts with disabilities.

Life can be cruel, and growing up in the real world isn’t easy. Kids pick on other kids for any reason they can find. The list is long, but anything that makes someone different is fair game: height, weight, gender, age, religion, bad hair day, clothing, where you live, kind of car, curfew, athletic ability, parent’s jobs, their marital status, siblings, bad teeth, bad breath, glasses, braces, and any number of things regarding sexual matters, intelligence, learning disabilities, opinions, or following rules. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a safe place to go where everyone was treated fairly, honestly, equally, and respectfully? A place where everybody lived by the same rules? A place where mistakes could be made without fear of ridicule? Wouldn’t the world be a better place if people could just learn to get along with each other?! Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could do something about it? What would you do if you had that privilege … that responsibility … that obligation? What if you could change the world?!

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