Although they represent less than 1% of the student population in the Central Okanagan School District, Cool Communicators still managed to throw one great holiday party in Kelowna! On December 1, 2010, seventeen students who use speech generating devices to talk, brought a peer to take part in games and activities geared to help them gain greater independence and confidence using their devices. This is the fourth consecutive year for this event.
Speech generating device technology has continued to improve and become more versatile to address the unique needs of these Cool Communicators. Students are now using a wide variety of devices accessed through methods such as eye gaze, switches and touch.
This year, several of the students used the iPod Touch with a communication app called, “Proloquo2Go”. This relatively new app has provided students who are ambulatory, a lightweight, portable, very cool solution for communication.
In addition to the Cool Communicators and their Cool friends, parents, CEAs and speech language pathologists attended the festivities. Student volunteers from local high schools had the opportunity to help manage game stations and interact with the Cool Communicators and their Cool friends while gaining valuable volunteer hours required for graduation.
The Cool Communicators were placed into similar aged buddy groups to circulate through stations which included games and activities such as Guess Who, cookie decorating, a Lotto game, Twister, Charades and a gift exchange.
The festivities were organized by district Speech Language Pathologists, Sue Rampone and Heather MacNaughton, with the support of SET-BC Consultant, Kathy Ryan. Once the vocabulary required for the activities and games was identified, it was shared with school teams so they could prepare their student’s device for the day and practice in advance of the day. This is essential since each student’s device setup is unique, and school teams are best equipped to know how and where the vocabulary should be stored.
These great events continue to grow in popularity in the central Okanagan. They are seen as wonderful opportunities to network with peers with similar challenges and have fun. The addition of peers and student volunteers has increased their knowledge and understanding of students with communication differences and expanded the supportive community.
Now that’s COOL!