For immediate release: June 19, 2009
BLOOMSBURG — A three-week preschool minicamp for deaf and hard of hearing children is under way at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. The minicamp, supervised by Deborah Stryker, assistant professor of exceptionalities, includes eight children ranging in age from 2 to 6 and eight graduate students.
The goal of the minicamp, according to Stryker, is to teach speech and language skills to deaf and hard of hearing children in a fun environment. The graduate students plan and involve the children in activities like making animal masks and sand art, cooking, scavenger hunts and singing, with all communicating made as visual and articulate as possible. Children also enjoy one-on-one speech and language therapy time with a graduate student each day.
The graduate students participating in the minicamp are enrolled in the deaf education Master of Science program, with two of the eight students having hearing loss. The minicamp, which is held every summer, serves as a practicum for the students.
According to Stryker, the minicamp is a positive component of the graduate program. "It allows for great community outreach, and it shows children that there are other kids like them."
This minicamp, which is offered free of charge, is also a positive experience for the parents. Stephanie Shaffer, mother of 2-year-old camper Emma, has observed a dramatic change in her daughter. Before coming to this minicamp program, Emma could only say and sign a few words. Now Shaffer notices Emma is making an effort to sign and vocalize more and pays more attention to her surroundings.
"Today she sat and listened and was very calm. I was worried about her going to preschool, but now I know she'll be OK," said Shaffer.