Submitted by Sarah Greichen
My name is Sarah Greichen. I’m a sophomore at Heritage High School and I am currently working on my Girl Scout Gold Award. I was inspired to start this project by my twin brother. Jacob and I have grown up in a family of five and grew up doing almost everything together. When we were little we had lots of joint friends, parties, and activities. Jacob, however, got less and less busy and had fewer friends. It wasn’t until 4th grade that I realized that Jacob actually had no friends at all. It wasn’t because friendship wasn’t something he didn’t want or pursue or because he didn’t try tons of sports and activities. It was because he has an Autism Spectrum disorder and the opportunities for friendship were few.
In 8th grade, I wanted to earn my Girl Scout Gold Award and for me the choice was easy. I wanted to find a friend for my twin brother. I knew that if I could find Jacob a friend, I could help other kids with disabilities find friends too. I interviewed tons of parents and community providers and researched kids with disabilities and friendships. I learned that kids with disabilities often cannot make friends on their own and need help from a parent. I also learned that parents connect and talk to each other through Unified Sports. I learned that friendship is necessary for a happy and productive life. I also learned that tons of kids with disabilities have no friends. Most people put kids with disabilities in a group together and think that a kid with a disability can only be friend’s with a kid with a disability. But, that’s not true. A Friendship between a kid with a disability and a kid without a disability is the best kind of friendship to have. This kind of friendship is called a Unified Friendship and it allows both people to learn a lot and gain a new perspective. I know this because Jacob is the best friend I will ever have and I want other kids to share this same experience and Score A Friend!
A Score a Friend Club is a youth leadership club that promotes unified friendships and school-wide inclusion. The first Score A Friend cub is starting at Heritage High School this year! I am also starting a Unified Kayak Club at my school and the National Sports Center for the Disabled is providing staff, equipment, etc. I am so excited that my brother gets to participate in two new unified activities this year! I hope that all Girl Scouts will read this blog and consider starting a Score A Friend Club at their schools!