Staff members of Christian Record Services, Inc., the only official ministry of the church in the NAD for people who are blind, are thankful that Oshkosh Camporee is taking steps to become more inclusive and welcome everyone to attend this international Pathfinder event. One way the CRSB team is contributing is through launching a new honor where Pathfinders can learn about tactile reading systems, including Braille.
“This is the first NAD honor geared toward Pathfinders that focuses on themes of compassion and engagement with individuals who are blind,” says Diane Thurber, president of CRS located in Lincoln, Nebraska. “Our goals with this honor are both to engage and to educate.”
In addition to teaching the honor to over 800 Pathfinders, CRSB team members also gave a trading pin to those who completed the class. The pin has the Chosen logo in a contracted form of unified English Braille. To their knowledge, it is the first Braille pin introduced at the International Camporee.
“It is natural that we would be involved with this because of the work that we do,” added Diane. “Christian Record had actually been trying for a number of years to get this off the ground and when I came about four years ago that was one of the first things we looked at.”
The Braille honor has 10 elements and takes about 90 minutes to complete. It was created by Josh Kittleson, CRS member services liaison, in collaboration with Jeri Lyn Rogge, CRS editorial and outreach ministries director. It took over a year to develop, and it was “quite an ordeal” to gain official approval, noted Diane.
Jeri Lyn stated that after they piloted the honor with several Pathfinder groups “there were some things we had right and some things we had to rethink,” in reference to what should be included in the honor. They especially valued feedback from Barbara Loos, a blind individual who frequently advises the organization. “We actually have enough content now for an advanced honor,” added Diane. “It’s something we will have to look closely at for the next Camporee.”
Awareness brings opportunities for engagement
“Disabilities awareness in Pathfinders gives an opportunity to reach a group of people who are often marginalized unnecessarily,” pointed out Josh, since blind people can do pretty much anything sighted people can do, with the appropriate modifications in place. “People are really receptive to the concepts we are teaching,” he added.
One practical element of the honor is the opportunity to connect with people who are blind in your own community. There is a set of six questions to ask that will foster engagement and relationship building.
“I’m excited that there seems to be an awful lot of… compassion for those who are blind,” concluded Diane. “This is going to open doors, hopefully, to opportunities for having conversations with blind people. I imagine [Pathfinders] will go back to their churches and want to do something” to engage with blind individuals.
Want to teach this honor for your club? Pathfindersonline.org has a Wiki to help you.
Photo: Hugh Davis