04/20/10 — Girl Scout council receives grant for inclusion project

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Girl Scout council receives grant for inclusion project

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on April 20, 2010 1:46 PM

The area Girl Scout council has received a $15,000 grant to create more opportunities for children with developmental disabilities.

The National Inclusion Project, co-founded by North Carolina native and former American Idol contestant Clay Aiken, has partnered with the Girl Scouts to create inclusive recreational opportunities for children with disabilities.

"We have always had special programs to include people with disabilities," said Michelle Anysz, communications and marketing director for Girl Scouts, North Carolina Coastal Pines, which encompasses 41 counties.

"(Girl Scouts) is for all girls -- no matter what disability, race, economic status."

While typically troops welcome all girls to the program, in some areas there are troops that specifically cater to girls with developmental needs, said Grazia Mostella, membership executive for Girl Scouts of Wayne County. She said she is aware of a troop in another county with several members who are blind and cited another example of a mother who became a troop leader because of her daughter, who had a developmental disability.

The goal of the inclusion grant is to better serve that population, Ms. Anysz said.

There are several ways this will be done, starting with the implementation of the "Let's ALL Play-Inclusion in Recreational Programs." That will primarily be launched during the summer months, allowing girls to enjoy a successful camp experience -- participating in such activities as swimming, arts and crafts, community service and physical fitness.

Two other efforts will also be introduced locally, Ms. Anysz said.

The "Circle of Friends" program involves introducing a patch to not only educate Girl Scouts on the need for inclusion, but also the benefits. Part of earning the patch involves creating a "circle of support" for a girl or adult member in the troop, with activities based on the Girl Scout leadership experience model.

Lastly, Ms. Anysz said, will be the creation of the "Ready Troop" program.

"We will create a recruitment initiative to reach out to our community and our community partners to intentionally and proactively increase the number of girls and adult members with disabilities," she explained. "The Ready Troop program will allow girls to reach out and invite girls and adults with disabilities into their troops. In addition, the council will work closely with organizations ... to actively educate our membership and to recruit girls and adults from the disability community to be part of our organization."