Students use grant funding to promote early childhood development

The National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA) has awarded a community service grant to the consortium chapter at UALR and UAMS.

In addition, the chapter recently received NSSLHA Gold Chapter honors after having received silver honors for the past two years.

The students will use the $1,000 grant to support their service-learning project at the Sunshine House of Fordyce, a licensed residential and emergency shelter foster home located in Dallas County in southern Arkansas.

Siobahn Osborne president, Kourtney Scott Vice president, Amber Silva secretary
Officers of the NSSLHA consortium chapter are surrounded by toys for Sunshine House of Fordyce

Many of the children at Sunshine House are at risk for speech and language disorders, according to UALR Faculty Advisor and Assistant Professor Kathy L. Shapley.

“The goal of this service learning project is to enhance these children’s cognitive and language development through toys and adult interaction” Shapley said.

She said the chapter members are carefully choosing toys using their knowledge of early childhood development and personal experiences in the practicum setting. It is expected that the toys will be delivered some time in August.

The students are also creating informational handouts pertaining to each toy to encourage language development. Each “how to” sheet will provide easy, fun, and interactive ways for adults to encourage language while interacting with each toy, Shapley said.

Sunshine House
Chapter members develop lesson plans to accompany their toy donations

Last December, chapter members held a fundraiser that netted over $2,000. The chapter purchased $1,200 worth of toys that will be delivered to two child care facilities in the Little Rock area. Shapley said the skills the students develop as speech-language pathologists and audiologists are intended to benefit the community at large.

The UALR/UAMS Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology, one of five such programs in Arkansas, was the first program in the state accredited by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Today the department holds about 100 undergraduates and 33 audiology students and 40 speech-language pathology students at the master’s level.

“I am extremely proud of the efforts of our 80-plus members in the UALR/UAMS NSSLHA chapter. They contributed many hours to this project on top of their course work and clinicals, and they consistently go above and beyond what is required of them,” Shapley said.

The master’s program is unique in Arkansas in that it is a consortium program, combining the resources of a traditional university and a medical sciences campus.

It has the largest number of clinical practicum sites and offers the most financial aid for graduate students. The faculty provide both clinical and classroom teaching. Students seeking master’s degrees may choose between an independent research project or a traditional thesis.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently ranked job prospects for speech and language pathologists as growing at “faster than average” pace in the years ahead. According to Shapley, students in the UALR/UAMS program have experienced 100 percent employment following graduation, so far.

More about NSSLHA
Founded in 1972, NSSLHA is the national organization for graduate and undergraduate students interested in the study of normal and disordered human communication.

NSSLHA is the only official national student association recognized by the American Speech Language Hearing Association. NSSLHA has approximately 13,000 members with chapters at more than 300 colleges and universities.

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