New CapU grant enables learning outside the classroom

For Alecia Ferreira and Caitlin Lumb, Wednesday mornings were the high point of the week in their Fall 2019 term.

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Tag(s): Education, Health & Human Development

Rehabilitation Assistant program students Caitlin Lumb and Alecia Ferreira gained practical, community-based experience working alongside Penelope Bacsfalvi with the North Shore Stroke Recovery Centre thanks to a partnership through the University’s new Unified Grant Program. (Photo by Taehoon Kim)

A practicum working with stroke survivors through the North Shore Stroke Recovery Centre (NSSRC) provided an experiential learning opportunity, thanks to the University’s new Unified Grant Program. 

Ferreira and Lumb job shadowed speech language pathologist Penelope Bacsfalvi and provided supportive therapy via conversations to help stroke survivors build skills to get back into the community. Supported conversations use pictures, photos, iPads apps and other visual tools to stimulate and encourage conversation and speech development.

Lumb and Ferreira gained a better sense of how people rely on speech to communicate and the challenges stroke survivors with aphasia (impaired speech) face.

“I was shocked how powerful it is to breakdown a conversation, slow down and really hear someone. You need to give someone the time to be heard,” shared Lumb.

“The stroke survivors are people who want to be understood, but their brains work differently,” says Ferreira. “They now have a different communication style, but they have stories to tell and want to share them.”

Unified grant stroke survivors

Caitlin Lumb plays a game with stroke survivor Gay Walker using visual tools to help regain speech and converation skills. (Photo by Taehoon Kim)

Bacsfalvi connected with Tracy Dignum, an instructor in the Rehabilitation Assistant program, who applied for and received funding through the University’s new Unified Grant Program. In addition to Lumb and Ferreira’s practicum, the $5,000 funding allows Dignum to hire two students who will carry out research on technology for people with aphasia. She hopes to see her research assistants present their findings at a conference in June 2020. The funding also supports NSSRC purchase licenses for apps and technology tools.

“I initiated this partnership with CapU to help train Rehabilitation Assistant students and give them practicum opportunities in the community in speech language therapy. Our members benefit by receiving added support, attention and connections, so it is a win-win,” says Bacsfalvi.

CapU’s Unified Grants create, develop and grow academic and non-academic partnerships, and fund projects that serve as a bridge for students between academia and the community or non-profit world.

For more information about the Unified Grant Program contact Dawn Whitworth, director of Creative Activity, Research & Scholarship at dawnwhitworth@capilanou.ca.

stroke unified grant

Alecia Ferreira uses the Touch Chat app on an iPad for a supported conversation with Joy Anthony. (Photo by Taehoon Kim)

Submitted by: Linda Munro