Boy Scouts of America provides boys and girls the opportunity to start with their best right now selves and grow into their best future selves. To achieve the highest rank, Eagle Scout, one must spend years earning 21 merit badges in topics such as communication, leadership, first aid, and environmental science. In the past ten years, according to Scouting magazine, only an average of 5.7 percent of eligible Scouts earn the Eagle honor.
Timmy Hargate is 21-years-old with nonverbal autism and joined Boy Scout Troop 461 in Highland Heights, Ohio when he was 11-years-old. When he joined the troop, Timmy was determined to become an Eagle Scout and after about nine years of hard work, he achieved the milestone in December of 2018.
“He’s very intelligent and he understands you, but he cannot speak very well,” Timmy’s father, Ed Hargate, told CNN. “It was extremely difficult [for him to become an Eagle Scout] because he couldn’t do it in a typical way most kids can.”
While most merit badges require speaking, Timmy used alternative methods of communication to complete them. Since third grade, he worked with therapists at Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner School for Autism where he learned how to use an iPad to communicate.
Instead of giving a verbal speech for the communications merit badge, Timmy created a presentation using PowerPoint. For other badges that required verbal communication to demonstrate understanding, he took written multiple choice tests to demonstrate his knowledge.
Timmy was determined to give his all in order to achieve the highest honor. He chose to complete the toughest of the more than 100 badges, the hiking badge, and ended up hiking over 55 miles in five days!
A task that requires significant effort, the Eagle Scout service project, is an opportunity to demonstrate leadership while performing a project on behalf of a community. For his Eagle Project, Timmy organized and managed the annual summer Field Day at the Lerner School where he planned the activities and lead his fellow troop members.
Ed Hargate says the Boy Scouts not only provided an outdoor education and hands-on experience, but gave him the opportunity to interact and relate with people his own age. “It gave him the confidence to be able to know that he can do things, that he can overcome that disability.”
A speech pathologist at the Lerner School, Phoebe Mason, said Timmy is always smiling and encouraging his peers in the classroom. “I think becoming an Eagle Scout would be hard for anybody,” Mason said. “To see what he has done is just amazing.”
Congratulations on your inspiring achievement, Timmy!