When a child goes to school unable to speak the same as their peers, or their teacher cannot understand them, it can have a negative, and lasting, impact on the child's self-image.
However, services provided at the no-cost Rite Care Clinic through the St. Ambrose University Master of Speech-Language Pathology (MSLP) have helped hundreds of children adapt and thrive over the past 10 years.
"We help build their confidence, which helps children succeed in school. Higher academic success lowers the chance a child will drop out of school later in life. This has a ripple effect. Each child we help is one little way of changing the community," said MSLP Program Director Elisa Huff, PhD, CCC-SLP.
The MSLP program and the Davenport Valley of the Scottish Rite will celebrate the program's 10th anniversary Aug. 24 with a fundraiser to benefit the SAU Rite Care Clinic.
The Rite Care Clinic is the only no-cost clinic in Iowa where children and adults with communication disorders can receive speech-language pathology assessment and/or intervention services.
Since 2009, 235 MSLP students have provided therapy to 550 children and adults who could not afford or were not eligible to receive services for communication disorders.
In the past 18 months alone, MSLP students have provided 2,706 hours of therapy, and two-thirds of those hours were working one-on-one with children.
"This clinic is one example of MSLP students and faculty living the St. Ambrose University mission: we are working to enrich the lives of people in our community," Huff said.
When the program launched 10 years ago, the clinical experience focused on providing services within the community, on-site at Quad City agencies and organizations, an idea Huff said was radical at the time. However, the focus on serving others is what draws students to the program.
Today, MSLP students continue to provide on-site services at agencies and organizations like the Friendly House, and within a more formal clinic setting at 1310 W. Pleasant Street, Davenport.
"If you look at what we do at the Friendly House, we are helping children with speech-language skills and helping identify potential literacy issues now, before they enter kindergarten and first grade. We are making sure they are as ready as they can be for formal school," she said.
The Rite Care Clinic provides no-cost services to adults with degenerative diseases or who are recovering from a brain injury or stroke. "A lot of these clients are limited by insurance to a certain number of speech therapy sessions each year, and it is not enough to recover from an injury or stroke," Huff said. "Through the Rite Care Clinic, they continue to receive services they otherwise wouldn't."
"We help build their confidence, which helps children succeed in school. Higher academic success lowers the chance a child will drop out of school later in life. This has a ripple effect. Each child we help is one little way of changing the community."
MSLP Program Director Elisa Huff, PhD, CCC-SLP
The clinic has remained non-cost through consistent financial support from the Iowa Scottish Rite Masonic Foundation and the Supreme Council, Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction, USA. In the past 10 years, the Foundation and Council have awarded the SAU Rite Care Clinic $387,600 in grants.
That support allows SAU to provide the clinical supervision to operate the Rite Care Clinic year-round. Huff said the money raised Aug. 24 will allow the clinic to serve more clients. Currently, there is a long list of prospective clients who hope to receive services.
The fundraiser, Death by Champagne and Chocolate, will be at The Fountains, 3726 Thunder Ridge Rd, Bettendorf. A cash bar opens at 5 p.m., followed by dinner at 6 p.m. and a presentation by two parents whose children were served by MSLP students and faculty at the Rite Care Clinic.
Following dinner, Mystery Unlimited Dinner Comedy Theatre, an interactive improv theatre group from Chicago will perform.
Tickets are $50/person which include dinner (prime rib, vegetarian, or chicken cordon bleu) the show, and a raffle for tickets to a St. Louis Cardinals and Cubs game at Wrigley Field, the SAU Wine Festival, and "Singin' in the Rain" at Circa '21.
Purchase tickets here.