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SMC students celebrate Easter with children at clinic

| Thursday, April 24, 2014

Saint Mary’s students in the Introduction to Communicative Disorder’s (ICD) class joined 18 patients and their families at Saint Mary’s Judd Leighton Speech and Language Clinic on April 16 to celebrate the Easter holiday.
Each student in the ICD class was paired with a child, for whom they made an Easter basket, and that child’s student clinician, Susan Latham, associate professor of communicative sciences and disorders (CSD), said. The student clinicians are all seniors who have participated in the clinical practicum and have worked with their clients for many weeks.
“This pairing creates a mentoring opportunity,” she said. “The senior students model for the intro students how to best interact and communicate with the client. The intro students can envision what they will be doing in two to three years as part of their practicum experience.”
The annual party included several events such as Easter egg dying, an Easter egg hunt and pin the tail on the bunny. The favorite activity was finding the Easter baskets, which are highly individualized, Latham said.
“Each basket is filled with ‘favorites’ for a particular client,” she said. “For example, this year we had one basket that was filled with vintage and classic comic books because one of our clients loves comic books and superheroes. The intro students work really hard putting together baskets that are appropriate and based on client interests.”
Latham said she remembers when she was a student in 1990 and made an Easter basket for a child who attended speech and language treatment in the community. When Latham joined the faculty, she said she held the first Easter party at Saint Mary’s where there were only five baskets as compared to the 18 baskets made this year.
“I was overwhelmed at the Easter party this year when I looked around our amazing new facility, watched many talented students as they interacted with families that have been part of our program for years,” she said. “It is what I always hoped for. I had a vision for our program and now that it is a reality.
“I am amazed and incredibly grateful. Our program is making meaningful and relevant differences in the lives of families … what a reason to celebrate!”
Carolyn Langley, Latham’s intro professor in 1990, began the tradition, Latham said. Langley included the Easter baskets as part of required service for ICD. Latham said it was her only class at Saint Mary’s that required students to serve others.
“Now, experiential and community-based learning is commonplace, but at that time it was a novel idea to partner and learn from other community members as part of a course,” she said.
Easter is a time to rejoice and the annual event was important because it showed the families of the clinic that they are appreciated, Latham said.
“We continually learn from them and want to celebrate the unique contributions they make to the development of our student clinicians,” she said. “They are a reason to rejoice.”
Latham said the best part of the children receiving the Easter baskets was their feeling of being heard. The students individualized the baskets based on the interests of the children, and the party is an opportunity for the children to feel special.
“I think this is a really important part of therapy too,” she said. “We always need to listen, really listen to our clients.
“They aren’t just receiving an Easter basket, they are receiving an Easter basket made especially for them because we really care about them. I believe we treat clients from a deep love that we have for them.”
Latham said it is important for the CSD students to get to know one another and to feel comfortable in the clinic since they spend a lot of time there during their four years.
“In a sense, the clinic is the home of our CSD family,” she said. “We want students to spend time here and learn from one another. It isn’t a ‘place’ where you come for your clinical practicum class. It is a nurturing environment where teaching and learning happen.”

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About Alex Winegar

A junior at Saint Mary's, Alex is a Communicative Sciences and Disorders major. She serves as the Saint Mary's co-associate news editor. Alex enjoys traveling, food and spending time in "The Mitten."

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