Badge support | Disability Awareness
Teaching young people about people who are different from themselves can help them to be more empathetic and understanding adults in the future. Unless they have friends or family members with a disability, young people may not have the chance to learn much about disability from other sources, so Scouting can be vital in exploring and clarifying what ‘being disabled’ means.
For Beavers and Cubs, there are specific Disability Awareness Activity Badges, but all sections can do work to understand disability, learn how it can affect people, and take action to make the local community more friendly and accessible: by choosing disability for A Million Hands.
Now is a great time to plan the Disability Awareness Activity Badge or A Million Hands activities into your programme, tying it into Deaf Awareness Week, which will run from 15-21 May 2017. The National Deaf Children’s Society has some great additional resources on their website that may help when talking about deafness and to people with a hearing impairment.
Beavers – Disability Awareness Activity Badge
It’s important that your Beaver Scouts understand what it means to be disabled. It may be easier to explain that people can have different levels of ability, whether physical or mental. Someone with a different level of ability may find a task more challenging, take longer to complete it, or need certain help and adaptations to help them do that task.
One part of this Activity Badge asks young people to find out about a Paralympian and their sport. This is a great way to get across a message of being differently able, and the Paralympics is an inspiring example. Playing one of the sports disabled athletes compete in during the Paralympics – like goalball, for people with visual impairments, or boccia, which you play seated – can help your Beavers to feel what it’s like to be differently able.
We are also lucky that one of our Scout Ambassadors, Ellie Simmonds, is an amazing athlete who has won many Paralympic medals for Great Britain. You could challenge your Beavers to find out some facts about Ellie and her sport of swimming, based on this Q&A we did with her.
To achieve this badge, your Cubs can choose which type of disability to focus on. This is something important to discuss with your Pack and help them to understand – that people with different types of disability have very different needs.
Finding out about accessibility and adaptations cross over all sorts of different ability levels. Assessing how easy or difficult it would be for a disabled person to navigate your meeting place, a local community building, or even the streets around your area, can be a great way to help your young people to understand what people with disabilities go through every day, and can help them develop empathy. You'll find this activity in the downloadable resource pack for disability.
Learning some British Sign Language (BSL) could be a great way to challenge your Scouts, teach them a new skill, and develop a practical way to communicate with people with certain types of disabilities involving hearing loss. You could build on this skill later, by focussing the actions you take for your project around the deaf community.
You could practice first in your Troop by learning some simple words and phrases, and use sign language in place of spoken words in some simple games, like Chinese Whispers. You’ll find resources that teach you how to fingerspell the alphabet on the Scout Print Centre, and you can learn the Scout Promise from Tom:
Once your young people feel more confident with sign language, they may want to get out into the community to take action – perhaps running a local campaign to encourage more people to learn BSL, or visiting people with hearing impairments to have simple conversations.
Explorers who participate in an A Million Hands project for disability will achieve their Community Impact Staged Activity Badge through their efforts. There are also community-focused elements to the top awards – Chief Scout’s Platinum and Diamond Awards and the Queen’s Scout Award – and so a good community action project can help Explorers to develop communication and teamwork skills, amongst others, as explained in the Get Ahead resource.
Scouting has partnered with Guide Dogs and Leonard Cheshire Disability for A Million Hands. Contacting representatives from the charities to visit your meeting place can be a great way to help Explorer Scouts understand the issue and ask questions, ahead of starting to research their project.
With the help of Guide Dogs, you could participate in their Streets Ahead Campaign to take action on pavement parking. This is something that affects people with all sorts of disabilities, including people with mobility issues who use wheelchairs or scooters, and blind people who use a stick or guide dog to navigate the world. Parking across dropped kerbs and on pavements can make them narrow, difficult to navigate and even dangerous. Explorers should walk around their local area, taking note of instances of bad parking that they find, and then think about how best to combat the issue – whether by writing to residents, running a campaign or talking to their local MP.
Scout Network can take action for disability through A Million Hands, by developing their own projects. It’s a great way to gain skills by planning, organising and carrying out an event that is aimed at addressing an issue specific to the community. You can find out more about how skills learned through Scouting can increase employability with the Get Ahead resource.
The myth-busting activity can be a really great one to make sure everyone taking part in the project is working from the same knowledge about disability. Print the fact sheet from the A Million Hands resource booklet, and then quiz your peers about whether the items on it are myths or facts. If any are contentious and split the group, ask people to explain their decision, and use the opportunity to bust some common misconceptions.
Scout Network members can use these projects to work towards virtual badges, collected on the Scout Network website.