Girl Scout troop set up for girls with disabilities

August 19, 2010 (NAPERVILLE, Ill.)

Troop 200 was set up for girls 7-to-17 years old with different disabilities. Even though they follow the Girl Scout way, some of the activities are modified to meet their needs.

Twice a month, Troop 200 meets at the Sportsman Lodge in Naperville.

"We go on a lot of field trips, we have a lot of meetings. We had a very busy year this year and next year we have an even a busier year. We've been able to experience new things. We've formed friendships along the way," said troop leader Kathy Riehs.

Riehs started this group in the spring of 2008 because of her daughter Emma's autism.

"My daughter Emma was in a Girl Scout troop. However, I felt it wasn't meeting the Girl Scouts' experience," Riehs said. "I had in my mind I wanted to start a Girl Scouts Troop with special needs girls."

Western DuPage Special Recreation Association works with Riehs and Troop 200. Jessica Griffin is the staff person.

"I worked with Kathy to get this troop going and help her modify anything, help her go on field trips, and kind of do all the background work," said Griffin.

Members of Troop 200 are expected to follow Girl Scouts guidelines for earning patches, providing community services and attending events together as a group.

"We work on different things, so the girls we want to see their strengths-- we don't want to see their weaknesses," said Riehs. "For instance, we did the posters, we let them know ahead of time what the poster was to be created, we wanted them to say two or three words, and the parents are wonderful."

Julie Newman's 10-year-old daughter Madeline is in this troop.

"She has epilepsy and she has some resulting developmental delays, some gross motor delays, as well as some speech issues," Newman said. "We love it. We've having a great time. Maddie's made a lot of great friendships. My family has gotten involved, and it's been a great experience, not just for her but for us as well."

Troop 200 has 13 girls. They are looking to expand.

"We hope to get a Carol Stream group going to serve our more northern communities," said Griffin.

"It's a great time for them to bond with each other and talk and be themselves, and that's a big part of this troop. I want my girls to be themselves," said Riehs.

This is the only special needs troop in the state. Western DuPage Recreation Association is the organization to contact for more information. Go to the group's website or call (630) 681-0962.

Western DuPage Recreation Association:

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