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Special Needs Advancement Policies and Procedures

Since its founding in 1910, the Boy Scouts of America has included fully participating members with physical, mental, and emotional disabilities. The basic premise of Scouting for youth with disabilities is full participation. Youth with disabilities can be treated and respected like every other member of their unit. They want to participate like other youth—and Scouting provides that opportunity. Many of the programs for Scouts with disabilities are directed at (1) helping unit leaders develop an awareness of people with disabilities among youth without disabilities and (2) encouraging the inclusion of Scouts with disabilities and special needs in Cub Scout packs, Scouts BSA troops, Venturing crews, and Sea Scout ships.

The Boy Scouts of America recognizes that no two young people are exactly alike. Each child is unique. Children are not machines who can be steered in exactly the same way, to have fun doing the same activities, or who learn in the same way from exactly the same instructions. Some youth need extra help from trained leaders and caregivers.

Youth with physical disabilities and youth and adults with developmental or cognitive challenges are welcome in the Boy Scouts of America. As outlined in this section, various accommodations exist to facilitate advancement. These youth do not need to join a special unit oriented to serving members with disabilities, although those exist and may be beneficial in some cases. The severity of disability will indicate how members should be registered. See “Registering Qualified Members Beyond Age of Eligibility,”

When knowledgeable parents or volunteers are able to provide assistance and oversight, most anyone can be a member. While leaders should be enthusiastic about helping those with special needs, they should also recognize the demands that will be placed on their patience, understanding, and skill in working on advancement.

For any specific inquiries please contact the committee by email: Steve Owen

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