Promise kept as Brownies help Summer with badge

Kaci Birch helps Summer Van Bogerijen to wash-up as part of work towards their residential badge.
Kaci Birch helps Summer Van Bogerijen to wash-up as part of work towards their residential badge.

Brownies have gone that extra mile to make sure one of their friends has gained a special badge, despite having complex needs.

Fleetwood girl Summer Van Bogerijen, who is eight, has a range of medical issues which prevent her from doing the things that most people take for granted, but that certainly hasn’t stopped her from being a big part of Cleveleys 2nd Brownie group.

The girls in the group say their Brownies promise every time they meet and part of that is to help others and they have certainly kept to their word.

Karen Brandes, who runs the group said she was determined to pull out all the stops to give Summer every opportunity possible.

She said: “Every year we take the girls on a Brownie holiday which enables them to work towards certain badges.

“While they are there they have to make their beds, cook, wash the pots and clean up.

“But because of Summer’s condition she isn’t able to come with us which means she couldn’t take part in the activities.

“However Summer was having respite care at Brian House and while she was there we took some of the girls to see her and they helped her with some of the activities needed for the residential badge.

“They baked cakes and washed up and they were also able to find out more about Summer’s medical condition and the care she needs.

“So it was a two way learning experience.

Summer, who has a neuro disorder called Polymicrogyria, has been a member of Cleveleys Brownies for more than a year and has already gained her swimming badge.

“At brownies everyone is welcome. People are different and have individual needs and we have adapted the group to make sure Summer is an involved as possible.

“And for the girls, they take it all in their stride and they are really keen to include Summer in their activities.”

Summer’s proud mum Stacey said: “Most of Summer’s time is spent with children who have disabilities like herself, which is fine but she also needs to socialise with mainstream children and at Brownies she is able to do that.

“A carer stays with her and she takes part in activities as best as she can and she loves watching the other girls.

“They learn from her too and the whole experience has given 28 little girls the chance to find out more about children who have extra needs.

“That has changed their opinions, they might have been frightened at first and unsure but they have learned about Summer and her needs and they accept her for who she is. And so have their families which has raised awareness and changed opnions about people with disabilities.

“It’s brilliant.”