With great excitement, 34 participants from different part of the Asia-Pacific Region arrived in Perth, Western Australia for the APR Workshop on Scouting with Special Needs held from 6th to 9th April 2012. They are coming from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and local participants from Australia to share knowledge, develop ideas, and commit to act.
The participants and staff gathered in the first evening of the event not only to savor the marvelous meals prepared by a group of volunteers from WA Branch of Scouts Australia but also to enjoy the songs provided by Catch Music, a community of young people with special needs. That evening was their first gig ever. Participants and staff were a delightful audience who applauded with gusto. Abdullah Rasheed, the Regional Director, welcomed the participants and thanked them for taking part in the workshop and wishing them success. Peter Blatch, the Workshop Coordinator, also welcomed everyone, and highlighted the importance of the workshop and to have fun.
The integration of young people with special needs in Scouting is not a new idea but it was the vision and wisdom of the Founder of Scouting Baden-Powell to give chance to these people to be active citizens and have fun using the Scouting programs, and help to make the world treat them better.
Many sessions were delivered and ‘hard talk’ happened in small groups, which led all participants to think about the purpose of the workshop and share in patrols their thoughts on program development for young people with special needs in Scouting. During group photo time, the participants simulated the experiences of a blind person. The participants paired up and one member of the pair donned blanked out goggles. Each ‘blind person’ was led by their partner across the car park, up a hill, across what might have been the busiest street in Perth, over the lawn, and to the gardens outside of Western Australia’s Parliament House.
At the end of the workshop, thirteen recommendations came up under three areas: training, networking/resources and program/activities. One of the recommendations is to organize a similar workshop in 2014.
The workshop concluded well with the support of Reg Williams, the National Commissioner, Peter Blatch, John Clarck and Sheridan Bunney who was the Workshop Director, with Abdullah Rasheed and Farouk Boraoui from the Asia-Pacific Regional office.