Abigail: Making Theater Arts Accessible to All | Girl Scouts

Abigail: This Gold Award Girl Scout Makes Theater Arts Accessible to All

Girl Smiling

When I was at auditions for a play in junior high, a girl arrived who was deaf in one ear. She said she could never have a main role because she’d been told by other theater groups that nobody could accommodate her disability—but she still wanted to participate. So we set out to work with her to figure out how we could make her part of the show.

That whole experience made me realize that lots of other kids don’t have the opportunity to act on stage—and that didn’t seem right. A big part of being a Girl Scout is being part of a sisterhood where everyone is included, supported, and inspired by each other. Why shouldn’t the theater world be the same way? That was the inspiration for my Girl Scout Gold Award project—to make theater arts accessible to all kids who want to participate.

To help fix the problem and make sure any kid who wanted to be involved in the theater could, I installed an ADA-approved wheelchair ramp at my local community theater, then developed and implemented a two-week theater camp program for kids with cognitive and/or physical disabilities. At the end, we put on a show and invited the campers’ families and friends.

It wasn’t easy, but whether I was learning from the physical therapist, recruiting music directors and teen acting assistants, or simply talking to the kids and their parents to find out what kinds of accommodations they’d need—the confidence I’d gained through my years as a Girl Scout stuck with me and helped me do it. Even from the youngest ages, when I was in second or third grade, my troop was helping out with younger Girl Scout troops and learning from the older ones. Having that kind of leadership practice helped me as I delegated tasks and managed my team.

The thing that means the most to me, of course, is all of the kids who went through the program, learned new skills, and were able to perform for their loved ones. But I also know that my Girl Scout Gold Award helped me get accepted by the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, gave me connections with professionals who work with kids with cognitive and physical disabilities, and earned me about $60,000 in scholarships!

If you take a look around, you’ll see that Gold Award Girl Scouts are making a major difference in our communities every day. I’m so proud to be one of them.