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12th December 2017

Manchester welcomes UK’s first Buddhist Scout group

A Manchester University researcher has helped to establish the first Buddhist Scouting group in the UK

Dr Mun-Kit Choy, a research fellow in cardiovascular science at the University of Manchester founded the first ever Buddhist Scout Group in the UK last week.

The group holds meetings at the Manchester Fo Guang Shan temple in Stretford every Sunday and run by the Buddha’s Light International Association.

In an interview with the Guardian, Dr Choy said that the values of Scouting and Buddhism complement each other in that they promote people to “do good things, say good words and keep good thoughts.”

Choy claimed his decision to help form the group is part of wanting to give his children a “holistic education.” Choy also believes the founding of a Scout group will further integrate Manchester’s Buddhist community due to the community requirements of being a scout and obtaining badges.

He stated: “we want our children to see communities that are not just the Chinese communities, or the Buddhist communities.”
Although initially a Christian organisation, the Scouts have become far more diverse in recent years. Whilst the group in Manchester is the first Buddhist Scouting group in the UK, this follows a pattern of other religions starting groups all over the country, with Sikh, Hindu and Muslim groups also in existence.

Scouting uniform has also expanded in variety to accommodate various religious traditions with a headscarf variation created in 2012. Moreover, an atheist variation of the Scout promise was introduced in 2014 replacing the ‘duty to God’ with ‘uphold our Scout values.’
Scouting has seen somewhat of a revival in recent years reporting 12 continuous years of growth, and a record waiting list of over 50,000. This is in part due to the appointment of TV personality, Bear Grylls, as Chief Scout.

According to Grylls, again speaking to the Guardian, “more people like Mun-Kit Choy who take the initiative to open Scout groups in their community, means more kids get to experience the incredible adventure and life skills that are found in Scouting.”


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