3. Open your arms to everyone

Part 3 of my series on developing great leadership skills based on Girlguiding’s article here:

12 steps to becoming a great leader

“An effective leader brings people together, regardless of their background – so we need to provide young members and fellow volunteers with plenty of opportunities to learn about different cultures and beliefs. In meetings with other Leaders, for example, we can use inclusive language and adapt activities for those with extra needs.”

Adapting Guiding for those with extra needs

Over the years of being a Brownie leader we have had Brownies requiring different levels of additional help. We have had one Brownie who needed to have quick access to toilet facilities, one Brownie with Cerebral Palsy who used a walking frame and wheelchair to move around, one Brownie who was very nervous of everything. It takes some additional thought when planning meetings and activities but doesn’t mean the unit misses out on anything.

For example, I would never offer a trip knowing a particular Brownie could not attend due to medical reasons. Every trip is well thought out before even being offered to check for accessible travel (which is difficult in London but not impossible) with toilet stops also considered.

To help our nervous Brownie I started emailing the parent each week with a detailed explanation of what we would be doing. The parent had explained that the varied programme we offered made it difficult for her daughter to relax at meetings.

Using the ‘Including All’ resource was a great help in situations like these.

However, this topic overall is a tricky one to plan ahead for. How can you market your unit towards girls who wouldn’t normally take on these opportunities – how do you find them? In all the above cases we were unaware of any additional help required before they joined us, and one current one until two weeks in! I suppose the only way to continue this work is just to welcome anyone who enquires, and ensure everyone has equal opportunities.  I believe Girlguiding’s varied programme makes it is rather easy to welcome all.


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