The age old adage "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 to 12 month advances in their cognitive skills and language skills.
Jason Cleckler, CEO of Delta County Memorial Hospital, 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 were invited, encouraged and nourished the team of Angela Fedler, coordinator of Delta County School District early childhood/family resources and executive director for Delta Family Center who provided a location and structure; Delta County Memorial Hospital'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 worked closely together to develop curriculum and work with the children in small groups four times a week for six weeks.
Angela Fedler's daughter, Talyn, age 18 and a former speech camp participant, 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 summer speech camp qualifies for insurance coverage through private insurance or Medicaid. Insurance usually covers 24 visits for a summer interim program. Over 50 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's community, or placed into the 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, Community Options and Delta-Montrose Home Health. Children ages three and 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.
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. The movie "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.
Sandy York and Bobbie Brewer led each of the 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 have 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.