The age old adage of it “takes a village to raise a child” is demonstrated clearly in Delta when an investment of six weeks over a summer, nets each child participating in a six-week speech camp from six months to 12-month advances in their cognitive skills and language skills.
Jason Cleckler, CEO of Delta Health, and Paula Ravesky, Rehabilitation Manager bought into the concept and took a chance on a dream of the Delta Community coming together to help children with speech and language delays.
The children from ages two to 13 are invited, encouraged and nourished by a summer speech camp by a team of Angela Fedler, Coordinator of Delta County School District Early Childhood/Family Resources and executive director for Delta Family Center who provides a location and structure; Delta Health’s Speech Therapist, Sandy York and Bobbie Brewer who works for the hospital as a rehabilitation technical aide and in a dual role for the school district as a speech language pathology assistant. The speech professionals work closely together to develop curriculum, work daily with the children in small groups ideally of five students for a total of 6 weeks, four times each week. Angela Fedler’s daughter, Talyn, now age 18 who had participated in speech summer camp for several years also assisted as a role model and teen volunteer.
A Colorado research study determined that the best outcomes from working with children to progress their cognitive and language skills is to consistently work with them four days a week for six weeks.
The parents of the children are invited, and hear about the summer program from word of mouth from other parents all over Delta County including Paonia, Hotchkiss, Cedaredge and Delta and the summer speech camp qualifies for insurance coverage through private insurance or Medicaid. Insurance usually covers 24 visits for a summer interim program, which is four times each week for three weeks in June and again in July. Over 50 children’s parents expressed interest, but the summer speech camp had to be capped at 40 total as the speech professionals could simply not work with more than 40 children each day.
When a child is born, whether at hospitals in Delta, Montrose, Grand Junction at Community, or placed into Neonatal Intensive care Unit (NICU) at St. Mary’s, babies are immediately assessed for needs. Those children identified as high risk infants, can enter into Part C with an Infant Family Service Plan (IFSP), which is home based. Infants from birth to age three begin to receive extra attention from groups such as Child Find, and Community Options and Delta-Montrose Home Health. Children from the age of three to four may participate in Delta Backpack Early Learning Academy (BELA) at the Delta Family Center as a preschool through the Delta County School system. The summer speech camp has been in place for approximately eight years with the Delta hospital joining the team two years ago.
One example of the theme for this year’s summer speech camp was “The songs we sing and moves we make” featuring G-rated Disney movies. Songs, singing, and movement are part of the curriculum featuring different countries and cultures. Movies such as “Coco” – featured Mexico, songs, dance, food, and festivals; “Tango” featured Germany, the polka and cultural aspects; “Princess and the Frog” featured Louisiana, the food and Mardi Gras; “Moulan” featured China and “Moana” featured – Hawaii. Snippets of each movie were shown and then comprehensive questions were asked of the children which focused on fun, learning and developing social skills at each age level.
Both Sandy York and Bobbie Brewer led each of classes, set goals and kept progress notes on each child, using the Colorado Department of Education standards for children in each age group and what skill sets they should be able to demonstrate by the completion of the speech classes.
As anyone can witness from the photos or sitting in on a class or two, the speech language instructors are having as much fun as each child who is learning, laughing and growing in cognitive and language skills. The Delta village helping raise these children are clearly making a difference in the lives of area children with the summer speech camp.