Guiding for the Disabled
There were various forms of Extension unit. In hospitals dealing with physically disabled children, a special Guide Company, and in some cases also Brownie Pack, could be set up to cater for the patients, often with visiting Guiders. Activities from the handbooks were adapted just sufficiently to enable the girls to carry out as much of the regular programme as was possible - placing an asbestos sheet on the bedclothes would enable a bedbound Guide to lay and light a small fire, signalling buzzers could be used to send Morse messages from bed to bed, scrapbooks and nature samples donated by country units could be used to help girls (a number of whom had never seen any birds, animals or plants beyond those visible from the bedroom or ward window), to learn some nature lore - it was found that most of the Second and First Class challenges could be achieved with minimal adaptation and several with no adaptation at all - and it's important to recognise the value of that rare experience of sameness for disabled children of that era, of proving themselves just as capable as other girls their age, regardless of differing circumstances.
Residential schools for particular types of disability existed - schools for the blind and deaf, and also institutions for some types of physical disabilities, and learning difficulties. Again, where necessary, adaptations could be made, but in most cases these were simply ways of enabling the Extension Guides to do the same challenges as every other Guide had to do. And if the Leaders could come from outwith the school, then they could bring something of the outside world into otherwise quite enclosed communities of patients and staff.
There were also 'special schools' for girls with behavioural difficulties - there a particular type of Guiding, "Auxiliary Guiding" could be set up, available as part of the programme of activities at the institution, and providing a scheme which offered privileges and attainments.
And for those who were housebound, there were Post Guide units - the Company meeting took the form of a letter which was written by the Guider. The Patrol Leaders received their copies and added in their Patrol news, and then forwarded it on to their Seconds, and so it would pass in turn through all the Guides in the Patrol. It would contain activities for each Guide to tackle and enclose her results in the little envelope gummed to the back, there would be quizzes, puzzles and challenge work, adapted so it could be done despite the girl's restrictions. When the last Guide had completed her activities, she sent it back to her Guider who could track progress, and prepare the next letter for sending out. Where possible, local units were encouraged to 'adopt' any Post Guides in their area and arrange to invite them along to visit occasional meetings, join in with outings etc. The big problem the Post Guide units faced - was in actually finding their potential members. After all, they were mainly dealing with girls who were housebound or even bedbound, and so weren't registered with any schools, so Post units often relied on local Guides and Guiders passing on details of girls they knew who were living in their area and who might be able to join - there was often no central record of them which could be accessed to aid recruitment.
Prior to 1968, Extension Guides wore the special Promise badge shown, which was similar to that for Air Rangers, but had lilac coloured enamel rather than the sky blue of the Air Ranger badge - they can be very similar and easily confused. There was also a special First Class badge which they could gain, and special Cords - originally in mauve, later in blue. Those who were able, were allowed to work for the green or red First Class badge instead if they wished. Those who did red First Class could be eligible for gaining Queen's Guide, which mauve or blue cords did not allow
A special range of interest badges was available for Extension Guides. In 1939 these badges were:
Ambulance, Collector, Gardener, Handicraft, Hostess, Language (for the deaf), Observer, Sick Nurse, Sportswoman and Thrift
These initially had mauve stitching, later blue, rather than green - to differentiate from the regular Guide badges. This did not preclude extension Guides from earning the mainstream badges too - for some badges (such as craft) testers were usually far stricter with the Extension Guides, because they had higher expectations of Extension Guides' ability at handicraft than of those in ordinary units - expectations which were usually met, with pride!