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Salisbury Academy hosts Footprints in the Community camp for speech development

As part of its community outreach programming, Salisbury Academy hosted a Footprints in the Community summer camp for speech development in the early part of August. At the camp, eight children ages 2 to 5 with a range of developmental delays worked with volunteers and therapists to develop their speaking skills through music.

“Our goal is that the children are speaking more or making more sounds by the end of the week because we’ve incorporated music at the camp,” said occupational therapist and Footprints in the Community co-founder Dr. Ashley Deaton.

Each day of the camp had a theme with corresponding books and activities, with children moving between an occupational therapy station and a speech/music station over the course of the day.

The results of the camp were highly positive and measurable.

“We were able to show growth in all 8 children who attended,” said Deaton. “We’re very excited about that.”

Tiffany Kennedy, the mother of a young camper, saw noticeable improvements in her 23-month-old daughter, Joni.

“The camp helped her to open up. She’s vocalizing well and she’s starting to interact with people more,” Kennedy said.

This was the second speech-focused summer camp this year for Footprints in the Community. Established in 2011 by Deaton and her colleague Dr. Kathy Bailey, Footprints seeks to create opportunities for inclusion for children with special needs.

“We all know of opportunities for children with special needs, like special Olympics. We are about inclusion – finding activities that already exist and making it more inclusive for all ability levels,” said Deaton.

Children with differing needs can have fun together, Deaton said. And these bonds can form just about anywhere – at summer camp or swim lessons, for example.

Another prime example of inclusive bonding is the relationship that Footprints has formed with Salisbury Academy. As partner organizations, the school and organization work together to have regular events, such as the pumpkin-painting activity that took place last October.

“Our relationship with Footprints in the Community is a special one and brings so much joy to our students and staff,” said Beverly Fowler, head of school for Salisbury Academy. “When students of all abilities have fun and work together, incredibly meaningful connections are made.”

This fall, Salisbury Academy and Footprints will partner for a Fall Festival event, where children will share in seasonal activities and free-play.

Reflecting on this month’s speech camp, Deaton couldn’t be happier with the results.

“It was wonderful, and Salisbury Academy is a wonderful facility,” said Deaton. “We are so grateful that they are willing to host events and partner with us.”

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