SEA VIEW, Staten Island (PIX11) — The motto of all Girl Scouts across the country is “Be a sister to every Girl Scout.” But it has special meaning for one very special troop on Staten Island.
These Girl Scouts are not learning about friendship and arts and crafts, they are learning about love and acceptance. Troop 5227 is believed to be the only collaborative Girl Scout troop in New York City, bringing together girls with special needs and their neurotypical counterparts.
It’s the brainchild of Lisa Rosenfield, a special needs teacher who 20 years ago thought her two typically developing daughters should have members with special needs in their Girl Scout troop.
“I felt we could bring the two groups together and try to make one troop,” Rosenfield told PIX11 News. “And I felt there’d be acceptance of one another.”
The girls, who met at the Joan and Alan Bernikow Jewish Community Center of Staten Island on Sunday, were making Valentine’s cards for residents of the Menorah Nursing Home in Brooklyn.
Carmen and Ganesh Maraj bring their non-verbal 8-year-old daughter, Lola, from Chelsea every week because of this sense of community.
“It brings a sense of respect,” Carmen Maraj, Lola’s mother, told PIX11 News. “Also to these young ladies, to see them support one another.”
Kathreen Torres has six children and finding a Girl Scout troop for three of them, including her 14-year-old Isabella, who has special needs, was more than special.
“Having a special needs daughter, it tends to be more difficult to have her to have friends and here is a safe place for her,” the mom said.
This Girl Scout troop has sold 12,000 boxes or cookies with a goal of reaching 15,000. They are hoping to raise enough money to go see Aladdin on Broadway and a trip to the New York Aquarium. They are looking for sponsors.