CHARLOTTE, N.C., November 20, 2003- The Wunita District of the Mecklenburg County Council. has won this year’s National Organization on Disability (N.O.D) Service Award from Boy Scouts of America. This unit is being honored for its inclusive approach to scouting for youth with disabilities. This annual award is administered by N.O.D.’s National Partnership Program and is sponsored by Aetna, Inc.
The Wunita District of the Mecklenburg County Council was created to give youth of all abilities the chance to experience the challenges and accomplishments associated with scouting. This group’s focus on abilities, rather than disabilities, is reflected in its name-Wunita, a Lenne Lanape Delaware Native American word meaning “one who is able.”
The Wunita District reorganized their annual Day Camp to offer all of the time-honored scouting traditions including row boating, archery, and wall climbing. In order to increase the sense of ownership and identity felt by the chapters, the Wunita District began establishing units in community based, family operated chartered organizations. This endeavor allowed parents of the youth with disabilities to control the organizations as opposed to advocacy professionals. Scouts from the Wunita District have begun to assume leadership roles, such as councilors-in training at summer camps, and have gained numerous award recognitions, including Honor Unit.
The Wunita District is part of Learning for Life, a subsidiary of Boy Scouts of America. The Boy Scouts of America was incorporated on February 8, 1910, and chartered by Congress in 1916. Its mission is to provide an educational program for boys and young adults to build character, to train in the responsibilities of participating citizenship, and to develop personal fitness.
“On behalf of the youth and leaders of Learning for Life, it is a great pleasure to have Charlotte, N.C. be our award winner this year,” said Cliff Takawana, Associate Director Learning for Life. The program they are delivering is as outstanding as the young people they serve.”
N.O.D.’s National Partnership Program comprises 40 national network organizations that, though their primary focus is not disability, share N.O.D.’s commitment to expanding the participation of people with disabilities in community life. NPP members incorporate programs and projects that encourage greater involvement of employees, members and volunteers with disabilities in their networks. Award sponsor Aetna, Inc., through an annual grant to N.O.D., provides NPP members with a $1,000 award to present to a local chapter or affiliate. The member organizations judge entries and administer the award.
“It is in the communities of America that 54 million Americans with disabilities go about their lives,” said N.O.D. President Alan Reich. “We appreciate the determined commitment and action of the Boy Scouts of America that helps those with disabilities to be full and equal members of their communities, and are excited by the inclusive model established by the Wunita District.”