Our view: A missed opportunity | TheUnion.com

Our view: A missed opportunity

According to the Handbook, the mission of Girl Scouts is to build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.

A local scout troop had just that opportunity recently (The Union, Aug. 1).

When Elyce Dobbins’ 10-year-old daughter joined an Alta Sierra troop, she was shunned, ignored and ultimately dropped, it appears because she has Auditory Processing Disorder (ADP) (sometimes compared to ADHD).

ADP makes it difficult to process heard information because the ears and brain don’t fully coordinate. This makes it challenging for these children to understand and follow directions, endure noisy environments and organize thoughts.

So they sometimes need extra time, slower speech and less background noise.

According to Dobbins, who is a special education teacher with the Nevada Joint Union High School District, her daughter loved scouting and had made progress and friends.

Unfortunately, perhaps due to the inability to understand or deal with the girl’s disability, the Girl Scouts leader and her troop shunned a meeting Dobbins hosted in May and left Dobbins’ daughter out of a sleepover at the troop leader’s house that the rest of the girls attended.

Dobbins finally withdrew her daughter from the troop after being told that she “just didn’t seem ready for Girl Scouts.” The result is one hurt girl who misses her friends and who doesn’t understand why she cannot return to scouting — and a troop full of girls who were denied an occasion to grow in mind, spirit and heart.

What a missed opportunity. What better way to learn courage than to confront something different from your own experience? What better way to learn confidence than to teach and help another person? What better way to learn character than to befriend someone who needs help and kindness?

And the girls could have earned badges — in such available areas as Celebrating People, Communication, and Healthy Relationships. These badges encourage Girl Scouts to focus on their relationships with others who are close to them or part of their community.

According to Girl Scouts Heart of Central California spokeswoman Alicia Allen, Girl Scouts uphold diversity. “We’re all inclusive, we don’t discriminate or preclude on the basis of disability, race, religion or sexual orientation,” says Allen. “Our goal is to ensure that every girl and volunteer has a great experience in the program.”

Well, Elyce Dobbins’ daughter did not. And the members of the Alta Sierra troop lost out, too. It appears they were not encouraged, at least in this instance, to practice the Girl Scout Law — to be “friendly and helpful, considerate and caring … and be a sister to every Girl Scout.”

It is not always easy to deal with children with disabilities. Perhaps scout leaders need more training to supervise kids from all backgrounds, experiences and physical challenges. Perhaps there needs to be more oversight by the local council that oversees the 2,500 troops in Northern California.

Most of all, there should not be closed doors, silence, or lack of closure. Dobbin’s daughter continues to ask her mother why she is not going to Girl Scouts and when she will be going again. We wonder the same thing.

This editorial represents the views of The Union Editorial Board, which is comprised of members of The Union staff, as well as informed members of the community.

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