Tashia from Sandy Ridge Pack 465 recently held a compassion and disabilities awareness meeting for her pack. She posted about the meeting on the Cub Scout Ideas Facebook page. I was so impressed by what she did that I asked her if I could post about it here on the site. She kindly agreed.
Tashia really put her heart and soul into planning a meeting that would help the boys learn how to have compassion toward everyone. Here’s what she said, “Since the Core Value for March was Compassion, I incorporated it into having feelings, getting in touch with how other people felt with a disability and how the boys could help someone.”
They started their program with five activities the boys had to complete and record on a worksheet.
- Do a good deed for someone.
- Talk about a person who taught them something new. Teach someone else the same activity.
- When you’re with a parent, say “Hello” or “How are you?” to a stranger.
- Do something helpful like hold the door for someone or pick up something they dropped.
- Talk about someone who helps you learn to do good things. Give their name and what they taught you.
The fun began at her pack meeting! Tashia started by asking if any of the boys knew someone who was disabled. At first only a few boys raised their hands. Then she explained how other conditions are simply overlooked as disabilities. Someone might be disabled and not look like it. They have a few boys who wear glasses, and the boys were surprised to learn that wearing glasses could be considered a disability.
To illustrate impaired vision to the boys, Pack 465 handed out safety goggles (which were donated by a parent’s workplace) to all the boys. But before they were allowed to put them on, Tashia smeared a thick coat of Vaseline on the glasses. They were each asked how they felt, if they felt any differently and if they felt like they could still do things that they would normally do.
Next, the pack discussed deafness and hard of hearing. The boys were given cotton balls to put in their ears. If they could still hear without a problem, they were asked to put their fingers over their ears. The leaders asked the same questions to determine if the boys felt differently. They began by yelling the questions then lowered their voices with each question. Tashia said, “They finally experienced what it felt like when the ‘huh?’ and ‘what did you say?’ started.”
To show the boys what it’s like to have missing or non-functioning limbs, the boys were given paper and markers and asked to write their names. Then they had to write their names with the opposite hand. Tashia wrapped two or three of the boys’ fingers of their dominate hand together with gauze and had them write their name a third time.
This was the most difficult, and the boys had to take their time and figure out how to hold the marker so that they could do it. Again, the pack discussed their experiences.
For the last activity, the boys were told that they were going to get to face paint two of their brave leaders–Tashia and her co-leader Tony. The boys were so excited as the paintbrushes were passed out! Then Tashia told them that they couldn’t use their hands–only their mouths. She explained that people with missing limbs have to learn how to do things differently.
After Tashia and Tony covered themselves with garbage bags, the boys got to work with the face paint. Tashia reports that some of the boys took it very seriously as if they were trying to paint an actual picture, while others would laugh uncontrollably because they had no control over the paintbrush. During the pack’s snack time, they discussed how not being able to use their arms made them feel.
Tashia was a little worried that she would have paint in her eyes or mouth or nose, but she and Tony had a great time being the “canvas.” You can tell that she loves her Cub Scouts and that she puts her heart into planning great meetings that are educational and fun!
To finish up the meeting, boys were given a handout showing the alphabet in sign language. They have to learn how to sign their names before their next meeting. This is a great introduction to sign language.
The Cub Scouts left the meeting thinking, “What if?” “What if I were different?” “What if I couldn’t see or hear or use my arms?” Putting yourself in another’s shoes is the first step toward learning compassion for everyone.
Many of these activities will meet the requirements in Wolf Elective Adventure: Cubs Who Care and in Webelos/AOL Elective Adventure: Aware and Care.
A big Cub Scout Idea thank you goes out to Tashia and the Cub Scouts of Pack 465 for allowing me to share their great ideas with you!
Yours in Scouting,
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