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Kalispell Boy Scout troop aims to include kids with disabilities

Posted at 5:16 PM, Mar 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-09 16:33:48-04

The only Boy Scout troop specifically for those with special needs is located in Kalispell.

Northwest Montana Boy Scouts District Executive Matt Covey says that Troop 1950 was established last fall.

"Troop 1950 started last fall. One of our district leaders -- Keith McAtee, who's the current scoutmaster of the troop...has a non-verbal autistic son," Covey explained. "He never thought it was possible for his son Aidan to be in scouting."

But Covey says it's now possible for kids like Aidan to get involved in the Boy Scouts because Troop 1950 is specifically dedicated to kids with special needs.

Those in the troop range in disability from non-verbal autism to ADHD. "We wanted to form a troop where kids could work at their own pace with no problems," said Covey.

Troop 1950 assistant scout leader Billy King says it's challenging but extremely rewarding to work with the troop.

"It's kind of challenging, but it's a lot of fun because I get to work on each boy one on one," explained King. "[They] learned flag ceremony last Monday and they learned to tie a square knot -- and I got to work with each one of the boys personally."

Covey told MTN News that various adjustments are made for those with differing disabilities.

"You know if your swimming merit badge is required for Eagle Scout," said Covey. "If you're in a wheelchair you're not going to be able to earn the swimming merit badge. So, they might change some of the swimming requirements to make a presentation to your troop on aquatic safety."

"I've got a cousin who's got MS and autism," said King. "And I've got a granddaughter who has autism, so it's very rewarding to me."

Covey stressed that anyone with disabilities is welcome in Troop 1950. However, those children do need to have a medically diagnosed disability in order to receive accommodations.

He also told MTN News that if there is enough interest, he'll look into creating a troop specifically for girls with disabilities.