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Boys’ Brigade launch new Disability App for youth leaders.

Tuesday 11th August 2015

Boys’ Brigade Launch new Disability App for Leaders

The Boys’ Brigade in Northern Ireland have launched a new Disability App [Saturday 25 July 2015], to provide quick, basic information for youth leaders on 25 different disabilities that affect children and young people. The new App was officially launched to a new batch of young leaders, during a welcome dinner on Saturday evening, at the start of the Boys’ Brigade’s annual young leader residential training week, known as KGVI.

The Boys’ Brigade Disability Network Team in Northern Ireland led by Colin Millar, Disability Consultant Boys’ Brigade UK, produced the Disability App to provide accessible, valuable information and guidance for its 2,500 youth leaders enabling them to effectively include boys who may display a disability or a particular special need. The Disability App can be downloaded free by anyone using the Apple platform with the Android version to follow soon. Colin Millar brought extensive knowledge and experience to the BB Disability Network Team from his day job as Principal of Killard House Special School and Associate School Inspector.

Student Andrew Paul, a young BB leader from Crumlin Boys’ Brigade did the ‘technical bit’ writing the code and preparing the App for use. Andrew has just graduated from Queen’s University with a Masters in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. This Disability App is thought to be the only one of its kind developed by NI volunteer youth leaders, for volunteer youth leaders and it is anticipated that it will be widely used across the youth sector. Speaking about the Disability App at the launch, Colin Millar said:

“In Boys’ Brigade we see the boy or young man first and then seek to address their particular need. BB is open and inclusive and this can present challenges for our volunteer leaders. Equipping leaders with quick access to some basic information on how to include a boy with, for example Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, Diabetes, Epilepsy or how to make activities and premises accessible for a wheel chair user can make such a difference to the volunteer leader, the boy and his family.

“A former strapline of the Boys’ Brigade was ‘First for Boys’. The new App is a first for BB and follows a succession of ‘Firsts for Boys’. Since its formation in 1883; the first uniformed youth organisation in the world, Boys’ Brigade has always put boys first and has always actively welcomed all boys of all abilities to become members and to achieve through BB.”

Colin is the Captain of 4th Newtownards BB and brought one of his young leaders, Kenneth Downes to speak about his experiences in BB and to help demonstrate the Disability APP at the launch. Kenneth has Down’s syndrome and has been a member of Colin’s BB Company since he was four years of age, achieving his Gold DofE award through BB and The BB President’s Badge. Kenneth said:

“I am currently 25 years old and I have Down’s Syndrome. From the age of five, The Boys’ Brigade has played an important part in my life. I have enjoyed making good friends, taking part in sports activities, parades, displays and doing badge work. My faith has grown and I have my President’s badge and Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award. At present I am a Warrant Officer in the 4th Ards Junior Section, helping out every Wednesday night. I look forward to going each week working with the boys and officers. The Boys’ Brigade welcomes all boys and I would encourage them to join.”

This development and launch of the Disability App follows on from work carried out by the BB Disability Network Team over 10 years and covers guidance on 25 different conditions: ADHD, Asperger’s Syndrome, Asthma, Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Brittle Bones, Cerebral Palsy, Challenging Behaviour, Diabetes , Down’s Syndrome , Dyscalculia , Dyslexia , Dyspraxia , Epilepsy, Expressive Language Difficulties, Glue Ear, Hearing Impairment , Moderate Learning Difficulties , Muscular Dystrophy , Poor Listening Skills, Receptive Language Difficulties , Semantic Pragmatic Disorder , Tourettes, Visual Impairment and Wheelchair Users. This information is also available in leaflet form and on the BB website at www.bbni.org.uk.

The BB Disability Network Team in Northern Ireland has quietly developed sector leading, disability training and support for BB leaders throughout the province and this has been extensively shared with youth groups across the UK and Ireland. The Disability App is one example of how The Boys’ Brigade lives out its Christian values, sharing the love of Jesus, accepting all abilities and demonstrates how they continually strive to be relevant in harnessing new technologies to deliver effective youth work.

The App can be found for free on the Apple App store – search for Boys’ Brigade Disability.


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