Movement games – vestibular (where is my body) Prep time – tactile Snacks – perprioceptive (how do I use my body) Catch – visual Noise – auditory Smells – olfactory Tastes -gustatory
Making Programs Accessible
and Safe for All Girls
By Skip and Tink
Was it easy to build your monument without all
Was it easy to build your monument once you
had all the tools?
Before you knew there was cheese, did you
know to ask for it?
How would it have felt to struggle with the
How does this exercise reflect some of our girls’
An ounce of prevention
is worth a pound of cure.
Girls come to us with all sorts of identities and
challenges that impact the way they experience
camp. Some of these identities and challenges will
be disclosed, many will not.
It is important that we create our programs such
that ALL girls can succeed and feel included.
There are many ways to make our programming
accessible to all girls without doing anything too far
out of the ordinary. What is a small effort on our
parts may make all the difference to a girl.
Persons who have mobility impairments have
some level of difficulty with movement. This may
be further explained as difficulty in ambulation
(e.g. paraplegia, hemiparesis) or joint range of
motion (e.g. hip flexion contractures, joint fusion)
Mobility impairment may be temporary like a
broken bone, or permanent like paralysis.
If a girl has known mobility issues, ask her about what
their needs and expectations are.
Encourage girls to participate to the best of their ability.
Place no judgment on the level to which a girl can
Offer periods of rest during activities that require a lot of
Sometimes a person with mobility needs may appreciate
having a buddy. A girl can be paired with another girl for
encouragement and assistance.
Be creative. There are many ways to modify activities so
that everyone can find a way to participate.
Any of various disabilities of the basic cognitive
and psychological processes involved in using
language or performing mathematical
calculations. Learning disabilities are not caused
by low intelligence, emotional disturbance, or
physical impairment (as of hearing). Dyslexia is
a common learning disability.
Affects 6 to 10 million children.
A learning disability is NOT the same as being
Explain directions carefully, simply, and slowly.
Encourage children to ask questions. If no questions are asked, review
the important points, step-by-step.
Have the child experiencing difficulty sit close to you so you can give
extra help when necessary.
Try various methods to see how the girls learn best, and can be most
engaged in activities.
If you are reading from a book or manual, point out where you are in the
Be patient. Children with learning disabilities need more time to think
and complete tasks.
The breaking of any routine produces great anxiety. Provide security
Remind girls multiple times during the day of the schedule to help ease
transition between activities.
Sensory Integration Difficulties
Sensory experiences include touch, movement,
body awareness, sight, sound, and the pull of
gravity. The process of the brain organizing and
interpreting this information is called sensory
integration. In some children, the brain does not
appropriately interpret this information, and thus
the body requires more specific sensory input.
Affects up to 70% of the children with identified
Sensory Integration Difficulties
Encourage movement games such as obstacle
Allow “prep time” before dressing
Suggest chewy or crunchy snacks
Play catching games
Provide warning before loud noises if possible
Avoid unnecessary smells and spicy tastes
Marginalized Social Identities
Girls are already coming into camp with one
oppressed identity, that of biological sex.
Beyond this, girls may find themselves in
marginalized identity groups based on gender,
gender expression, race, ethnicity, class,
religion, age, sexual orientation and ability.
Girls of marginalized social identities are teased
and bullied more often, and thus may
experience a high level of distress.
Marginalized Social Identities
Biological Sex – Determination based on genitalia, chromosomes and hormones
Male, female, intersex
Gender – Internal sense of masculinity or femininity
Woman, man, transgender, genderqueer
Gender Expression – External presentation of masculinity or femininity
Butch, femme, androgynous
Race – Classification of people based on physical characteristics like skin color and face
Asian people, White people, Black people, People of Color
Ethnicity – The country or culture one comes from
Chinese, Jewish, African
Class – Socio-economic status, based on the amount of wealth one’s family has
Poor, Working class, Upper class
Religion – One’s faith community or set of spiritual beliefs
Christian, Agnostic, Buddist
Age – How long one has been alive
Child, Middle Aged, Senior
Sexual Orientation – Attraction to others of a sexual nature
Gay, Straight, Queer
Ability – One’s physical, mental and emotional level of ability
Able bodied, Temporarily Disabled, Differently Abled
Marginalized Social Identities
Stop any conversation that blatantly makes a girl
uncomfortable, bring the topic up later when everyone is in
a better space to learn from one another.
Don’t make assumptions about any girl’s social identities.
Feel free to open up about your own social identities.
Remind girls that every girl has a right to control her own
body and the ways that she presents it.
When stereotypes play into teasing, reference other more
obviously wrong stereotypes to challenge the idea of
stereotype as truth.
Suggest that girls focus on similarities between everyone in
the group, rather than pointing out differences in one girl.
Mental health is something that affects
everyone. It relates to how you feel about
yourself, how you feel about others and your
ability to cope with life’s demands.
About one in five families are affected about by
Girls are seven times more likely than boys to be
depressed and twice as likely to attempt suicide.
Provide girls with plenty of opportunity to be active.
Encourage girls to eat balanced meals and to get a full
night of sleep.
Establish structure and routine, as well as clear
expectations of girls’ behavior and participation.
Foster a safe atmosphere in which girls feel safe to
share about their feelings and experiences with each
other and adults.
Provide support for girls when they are having a
challenging moment, day or even week.
Invite girls to set goals for themselves and praise them
for jobs well done.
Action and reaction, ebb and
flow, trial and error, change - this
is the rhythm of living. Out of
our over-confidence, fear; out of
our fear, clearer vision, fresh
hope. And out of hope, progress.
Sometimes we are simply not equipped to meet every girls’
needs. In these cases, challenging behavior may arise.
However challenging the behavior may be, it is more
important to maintain the girls’ privacy within the unit and to
support her as well as possible. No disciplinary action should
be taken at the onset of these behaviors.
Some of the behavior noted is indicative of a medical
problem, while others are ways of expressing certain
emotions. All are serious enough to warrant more discussion.
Acting out is defined as the release of out-of-control
aggressive in order to gain relief from tension or
Acting out is generally caused by an intense
amount of emotion that a child feels unable to
Give the child adequate opportunities to express
feelings and experiences. Encourage journaling
and taking space when a feeling is too intense.
Normalize the need for self regulation, as these
skills will assist children who don’t act out as well,
and will help the child in need employ these tactics.
Stealing is defined as taking items without
permission, and lying is defined as being
Stealing and lying may be a thrill seeking
behavior. It may also be an attempt to get
attention, or to acquire wanted items or avoid
When a child is caught stealing or lying,
encourage the child to come forth with the truth,
and to make amends for the behavior. This
includes apologies, returning stolen items, and
committing to appropriate behavior in the future.
Sexualized behavior is defined as behavior that is
inappropriately sexual in nature, often explicit language,
body posturing or simulation of sexual acts.
Sexualized behavior may be an attention-getting behavior
utilized to communicate confusion around sex, sexual
orientation, and attraction, or an effort to draw attention to
the “out of control” feeling the child may be experiencing.
Sexualized behaviors may also be the result of previous
Do not probe the child for a disclosure of abuse. Explain
that certain behaviors are inappropriate at camp, and help
cue the child to more appropriate ways to express the
Disordered Eating Habits
Disordered eating habits are defined as the
restriction of food intake, cycling through periods
of binging and purging or overeating until she is
Disordered eating can be caused by a distorted
body image, feeling out of control of one’s body,
or the pressure to have the “ideal body”.
Model appropriate eating habits at meals, and
educate about the importance of healthy eating.
In older girls, it may be helpful to inquire into the
reasoning behind the behavior.
Depression is defined as a period of prolonged sadness
and may be characterized by lack of energy,
disturbance in sleep patterns, withdrawal from
friends/family, emotional outbursts or thoughts of
Depression can occur when a child feels overwhelmed
by social, family or other issues. Feelings of low self
esteem and lack of agency are often co-morbid with
Problem solve with the child about situations that are
currently causing her distress.
Encourage healthy eating and sleeping habits, good
hygiene, and engaging in program activities.
Self Injurious Behaviors
Self-injury (also termed self-mutilation, self-harm or self-
abuse) is defined as the deliberate, repetitive, impulsive, non-
lethal harming of one’s self. Self-injury includes but is not
limited to cutting, burning, and punching self or objects.
Self-injurers commonly report they feel empty inside, over or
under stimulated, unable to express their feelings, lonely, not
understood by others, and fearful of intimate relationships and
adult responsibilities. Self-injury is their way to cope with or
relieve painful or hard-to-express feelings and is generally not
a suicide attempt.
First and foremost the injury must receive the necessary first
aid or medical attention. In the process, it may be helpful to
ask the girl what feelings preceded the behavior. Attend to her
with the utmost discretion.
Enuresis (also known as wetting) is defined as
inappropriate urinating by a child past toilet-
training age, during awake or asleep hours.
Enuresis may be caused by a urinary tract
infection, or by the voluntary holding of urine. It
is also associated with ADHD in girls.
Clean up the accident quickly and discretely. Do
not discipline the child, as they are likely already
experiencing a great amount of shame.
Encourage to go to the bathroom more often
during the day and before bed.
Encopresis (also known as soiling) is defined as
inappropriate defecating by a child past toilet-
training age, generally during awake hours. It is
often characterized by a non-chalance attitude on
behalf of the child.
90% of cases are caused by constipation
Clean up the accident quickly and discretely.
Encourage the child to eat fiber rich foods at meals
such as fresh fruits, dried fruits like prunes and
raisins, dried beans, vegetables, and high-fiber
cereal and to go to the bathroom more often after
Kids’ Health http://www.kidshealth.org/parent/emotions/behavior/encopresis.html
King County http://www.metrokc.gov/dchs/mhd/faqmh.htm
MedLine Plus http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/mentalhealth.html
National Institute of Mental Health http://www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/depression.cfm
New York State Department of Health
NYU Child Study Center http://www.aboutourkids.org/aboutour/articles/sexual.html
S.A.F.E. Alternatives http://www.selfinjury.com/sifacts.htm
Sensory Integration International http://www.sensoryint.com/faq.html
University of Illinois Extension http://www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/specialneeds/lrndisab.html