Radford COSD faculty and students host full RiteCare© summer schedule to enhance children's literacy and language skills
To cap the 2016 RiteCare© Clinics' summer of helping children develop and enhance their communication and literacy skills, almost 150 children, family members, area Scottish Rite Freemasons and Radford student clinicians joined Provost Joseph Scartelli for a celebration.
The luncheon in Kyle Hall’s Multi-purpose room June 28 was highlighted by James Cole, Scottish Rite Sovereign Grand Inspector General in Virginia, who presented five Radford students a check for $33,000 to support the university’s continuing initiatives in partnership with the Virginia Scottish Rite Foundation (VRSF).
"This is a joyous and meaningful occasion," said Scartelli. "The university thanks the Scottish Rite for the ultimate good that has taken place since the partnership began so long ago. It has been a symbiotic, win-win partnership."
The event marked the 26th year that Radford’s Department of Communication Science and Disorders (COSD) and the VSRF teamed up to help children of limited means overcome a variety of communication disorders. Over those two decades, the VSRF has shared almost one million dollars with the COSD Department toward achieving the organizations’ shared goals of improving speaking, hearing, writing and learning.
In the process, the VSRF has helped prepare a generation of speech-language pathologists (SLP) with hands-on experience working with children and families.
“In my sixteen years coming to this event, I love the smiles. There are smiles on the faces of the student clinicians, the faculty and, of course, the children. But the smiles on the faces of the families who come here are most rewarding,” said Cole. “We are engaged in a great opportunity to do something that matters. We enhance families’ ability to communicate and that enhances our communities’ ability to communicate.”
Cole and Scottish Rite representatives - from Galax, Radford, Clifton Forge and Roanoke – were on hand for tours of the camps that their efforts facilitate. The 2016 Summer RiteCare© programs included:
- The Language and Literacy Summer Institute, led by COSD Associate Professor Elizabeth Lanter, that supports the academic achievement of children from preschool to middle school with programs to bolster oral and written language skills through story re-telling, sound awareness, letter-sound correspondence, comprehension and written expression among others.
- The Preschool Language Lab, organized by Corey Cassidy, WCHHS associate dean and associate COSD professor, for toddlers and pre-school-aged children with identified communication disorders that featured peer interaction and music therapy activities for 12 clients toward specific speech, language and peer interaction-skill goals.
- Reading Smiles Jr., a speech/language summer therapy program, coordinated by Clinical Instructor Patricia Rossi for toddlers and pre-schoolers to promote dynamic and intelligible spoken and signed language skills through play, parent teaching and home programming.
- The Radford Adventure Reading and Writing Camp, a literacy-focused camp for school-aged children to develop literacy skills through small-group and individual work focused on science and technology related material and run by Assistant Professor COSD Karen Davis and COSD Instructor Karen Arndt.
Five RU second-year graduate students were recipients of Scottish Rite Scholarships to assist with organizing the camps. They were singled out by Cole to accept the Scottish Rite’s donation. They were:
- Lauren Paulette
- Ashley Houchin
- Lauren Aprile
- Kelsey Owens
- Elizabeth Bowen
“I saw so much growth among the children with whom I worked,” said Paulette, who worked for three weeks with the children attending the Preschool Language Lab. “From my professional point of view and from the children’s points of view, I can see just how much benefit comes from the concentrated therapy that comes from the kindness of the Scottish Rite members.”
At the Language and Literacy Summer Institute, the camp ended on June 23 with a Readers Theater performance and film, that was read and performed by the campers and their student clinicians. More than 40 parents, grandparents and friends filled a classroom to watch the seven students recite and ham it up.
“This is a great opportunity for the kids to build confidence in their communication skills,” said Laura Szerkoman, the mother of a performer. “It is huge for my son and I am so proud of him and all his classmates.”
Rachel Kessler, a first-year graduate student from Moneta, narrated the performance and worked with the campers on their speech, language and peer interaction-skill goals.
“It is a chance for me to work intensely with the children,” Kessler said. “My own skill set has grown by applying what I have learned in the classroom and practiced in the clinic. I hope I have improved as much as I think the children have.”
The Summer Rite care clinics complement the activities of the Radford University Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic (RUSLHC) in which services are provided by graduate interns and supervised by state licensed and American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) certified speech-language pathologists. Each academic year the RUSLHC provides over 3,000 clinical clock hours of training while providing services to clients from the New River and Roanoke Valleys and across Virginia in areas such as prevention, assessment, and treatment of speech, language, swallowing, and hearing disorders.