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Special playground project of a girl with special needs

Newswatch 16's Claire Alfree shows us how a Girl Scout troop is making Schuylkill County more inclusive, starting on the playground.

PINE GROVE, Pa. — After months of planning their Take Action community project, Girl Scout Troop 32840 unveiled the newest feature at Pine Grove Township Recreational Park – a communication board.

"They saw the need, obviously, with a friend that can't communicate and feel that 'who wants to play in a playground if you can't talk to each other and tell each other the fun things you want to do with each other?' It's one great way to bring the community together," said Kim Krummich, a regional director with the Girl Scouts.

The group of 20 elementary school girls decided to make the communication board their priority so classmates, including Leah Wolfgang, can interact without using an iPad or other device.

"People who have Angelman syndrome and stuff like that actually need the communication board because they really can't talk," said scout Hailey Strouphauer.

"Some people that are not able to speak should be able to play too. So if they need help with something, they can just like show somebody that at the board to help them," said Willow Neidilinger.

Leah is a playful student who has Angelman syndrome, a genetic disorder that can cause issues with balance and speech. After being their main inspiration for their Take Action project, the scouts worked with Leah throughout the entire design process so the board would have everything she would need to communicate on the playground.

"We cut off her communication when we come to a place like the playground because we're not carrying her iPad around. We're trying to learn it and work on it as well, so for her to be able to tell us that she's thirsty or hot, it's just going to help so much," said Leah's mom Jennifer Wolfgang.

With several of the troop's members having disabilities, the Girl Scouts made it clear that this will be the first of many communication boards at playgrounds throughout Schuylkill County.

"Warms my heart the fact that, like now, future generations will have that to use because I know personally, I could've used that," said Amanda Janney-Hayman, a Girl Scout co-leader.

Thanks to the Girl Scouts, Leah can communicate and play with everyone on the playground just like every other kid.

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