Communication without speech a challenge

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From left, Donna Litwin-Makey, Melissa Gillett, Erin Genge, Kaityn Smoke, Tracy Koehler and Lindsay Dienesch of the Children’s Treatment Centre of Chatham-Kent celebrate funds raised for the Augmentative Communication Services Department. Gillett, Genge, Smoke and Dienesch took part in the an awareness-raising challenge.

The Let’s take AACtion fundraising campaign is all about communication.

Thanks to this year’s effort, a team of six participants raised $1,700 for the Augmentative Communication Services Department at the Children’s Treatment Centre of Chatham-Kent.

That’s where many local children learn to communicate with Augmentative and Alternative Communication devices.

To date, 19 participants have taken part, raising more than $8,265 for the initiative. During the month of October, each participant went without the use of verbal speech, using an AAC device instead, helping to create a better understanding of the challenges facing those who use the devices.

Kaitlyn Smoke started the Let’s Take AACtion effort five years ago to raise awareness and funds for ACC awareness month. AAC is close to Smoke’s heart as her older sister Alyson used head switches to communicate with others and she believes it is important to help individuals have a voice.

“I often found people didn’t know how to interact with my sister Aly,” Smoke said in a media release. “My goal has been to help educate others and understand more about ACC, so they can be more accepting and willing to engage with all members of our community.”

CTC-CK staffer Melissa Gillett was excited to participate in this year’s event, making it her second time.

Gillett said the fundraising day has become one of her favourite days of the year.

“I love that Kaitlyn has found this incredible way to honour her sister while spreading awareness for people who rely on alternative ways to communicate,” Gillett said.

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