PINE GROVE, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A Schuylkill County girl scout troop is working to make playgrounds more inclusive.
Playing with friends is much easier to do when you’re able to talk to them, but what about nonverbal children?
“We don’t have any other way besides her body language for her to tell us what’s wrong or what she wants,” said Jennifer Wolfgang.
Leah Wolfgang has Angelman Syndrome which prevents her from easily communicating with her peers. Her friends in a local girl scout troop decided to figure out a way to communicate with her and make her feel included during recess.
“I felt bad for all the kids who couldn’t talk to kids on the playground, so the Girl Scouts decided to make a communication board for them,” said Hailey Strouphauer, Brownie in Girl Scout Troop 32840.
The board allows students like Leah to tell other kids or teachers how she’s feeling.
“The communication board is just a great way for an inclusive environment for our students so they can communicate with other students and so it allows them to be a part of the group and they can tell us what’s going on, what they want to play with, what they want to do. This is a great place for them to be able to communicate with their peers,” said the Director of Curriculum at Pine Grove School District, Vince Hoover.
Leah’s mom, Jennifer, says this project means the world to her. Now, when Leah attends school in the Pine Grove School District, she will be able to communicate with her friends.
“The theory behind a communication board like that is you work on it together. So if you’re saying, I want to go on the slide. You will hit the slide. Or you ask Leah, oh do you see that bird and you can hit the bird. You model it so she can learn that as well. It’s an interactive between the two people using the board together,” said Wolfgang.
The idea started with these girl scouts in Troop 32840.
“When we talked with our heads of Girl Scouts, they said this is something you see from girls that are in high school, juniors, seniors, girls finishing Girl Scouts. To come from a troop of kindergarten through 3rd grade, this is just absolutely mind blowing. Their love and compassion for others that are different from them is really touching,” said Lindsay Strouphauer Leader of Girl Scout Troop 32840.