Eagle Scout Project Is Life-changing Gift for Child with Special Needs

For Ellen Colson, a second grade student at Little Valley Elementary School, getting through an average day at school requires an effort that is anything but average. As a child with special needs, she faces challenges many of the other students in her school do not.

“It takes her a lot of energy just to breathe,” said her mother, Anne Colson.

Eagle Scout Project is Life-changing Gift for Child with Special Needs
An Eagle Scout project made a difference for this child and her teachers (photo:

Ellen has a rare form of muscular dystrophy that requires her to spend the majority of her day in a motorized wheelchair. Of course, she doesn’t spend all day in the wheelchair, meaning teachers must sometimes help to transfer her from the chair to the floor so that she can get some down time.

Sometimes, working with a child with special needs can require teachers to take a variety of additional precautions, and in Ellen’s case, the transfer from chair to floor was not always easy or safe for Ellen or for the teachers, but the school didn’t have another solution.

That’s when Eagle Scout candidate Jalen W., from the Boy Scouts of America Utah National Parks Council, stepped in to help. He heard Ellen’s story and knew that he could make a difference for this child with special needs.

To help reduce the stress of transferring Ellen from her chair to the floor, Jalen focused his Eagle Scout project on the construction of an activity table for Ellen. It has helped to change her life and the lives of her teachers.

Now she has the ability to rest comfortably as well as work on other projects on the table without the same risk of a complicated transfer from her wheelchair to the floor. It also allows her to spend the entire day in the classroom with her friends.

“Our backs are safe and she is safe,” said Ellen’s teacher, Jaqueline Whitaker. “It’s life-changing really.”

To learn more about Jalen’s Eagle Scout project, be sure to read the full article and watch the story on

To learn more about the positive impact that Scouting can have on young people like Jalen, be sure to check out this article on the recent Tufts study, and watch this video:


Avatar photo

Newsroom Blog

This blog is managed and written by staff of the Communications Department of the Boy Scouts of America.