Trying to make the world better, fairer, more inclusive, a troop of Girl Scouts is working on the issue of access to shops and restaurants in Ridgefield for people with disabilities. The fifth grade girls of Branchville School\u2019s Troop 50669 visited a recent Commission for the Disabled meeting, and are writing to commercial landlords in the village to lobby for ramps that would make stores and restaurants more accessible. \u201cWe came up with this idea because our friend Dina was in a wheelchair. We wanted to promote easy access for our friend,\u201d said Aimee Kennerley. \u201cShe feels disincluded,\u201d said Katherine Lombardo. \u201cIf she\u2019s going to a party, she can\u2019t pick out the present for her friend.\u201d \u201cDina is one of my best friends,\u201d said Ainsley King. \u201cI can\u2019t go places with her in town. She\u2019s in a wheelchair. It\u2019s hard to find places to go \u2026 places don\u2019t have ramps.\u201d \u201cThis is important to me and my troop because we have a friend, Dina, in a wheelchair, and she can\u2019t really get into town,\u201d said Nicole Gardner. \u201cMost stores don\u2019t have accessible ramps. And they don\u2019t have a button you push and it will open.\u201d Pam Banks, who co-leads the troop with Louise Kennerley and Madiha Jamshed \u2014 Dina\u2019s mother \u2014 explained how the girls got involved. \u201cIn fifth grade, the girls need to do their Bronze Award, which is rooted in identifying something in the community that is not fair\/just or is a problem and then developing a strategy to make a change,\u201d she said. \u201cThe girls brainstormed on what they wanted to influence\/change and overwhelmingly this project idea was born.\u201d The next steps will include writing letters to landlords and owners of stores and restaurants \u2014 with a likely focus on access to places fifth graders would be most interested in going. \u201cWe were thinking of our Bronze Award. We each wrote an essay,\u201d said Lila Tantary. \u201cSomeone came up with the idea of making Main Street more accessible.\u201d Questions Dina is appreciative of her friends\u2019 efforts. \u201cI\u2019m in a wheelchair,\u201d she said. \u201cI have to have a ramp or I can\u2019t get in.\u201d When the girls went to the Commission for the Disabled, they prepared some written materials, including a statement of the problem by Dina: \u201cMy name is Dina Jamshed and I love Ridgefield. I come to Main Street all the time but there are many stores that I can\u2019t get into \u2026\u201d The troop asked the commission questions about access for disabled people, and the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). \u201cHow big a problem is it \u2014 are most of the stores complying with the law?\u201d \u201cWhat can the town do to get the store owners to make their stores accessible?\u201d \u201cWhen the town looked at the issue, did it consider different disabilities? Or just people in wheelchairs?\u201d \u201cDo you know what it is going to cost? And who will pay for it?\u201d \u201cWhat can we do to help?\u201d \u2018Awakening of awareness\u2019 Don Ciota, chairman of the town Commission for the Disabled, was encouraged by the girls\u2019 interest. \u201cThe first thing is the awakening of awareness and empathy in these children for what it means to be deprived of accessibility based upon a disability,\u201d Ciota said. \u201cIt also says something about the benefits of inclusion for students with disabilities in our educational system and social organizations such as the Girl Scouts. \u201cHaving a classmate with a disability exposes a non-handicapped student to a world they may otherwise take for granted, that is, being able to enter and participate at will in any public accommodation,\u201d he said. \u201cBut in this circumstance, they have witnessed the result of a friend being denied such an opportunity, thereby evoking an empathic response, which, in turn, advances their own personal growth into young adulthood.\u201d The project concerning accessibility wasn\u2019t the one Dina had proposed for the troop when the girls were writing essays and brainstorming about the Bronze Award efforts. \u201cI wanted to cook for the poor,\u201d Dina said.