Ms. Sandy Dorsey, founder of Smiles for Speech, donated over 500 therapy tools, two laptops, and assessment books valued at over $20,000.00 to the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences at the School of Allied Health Sciences (SAHS), UHAS.
Presenting the books on behalf of Ms. Dorsey on November 23, Dr. Sonia Aboagye, Head of Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences, noted that Smiles for Speech works to improve access to specialist therapy and resources for children with speech, language communication or swallowing disorders from impoverished communities around the world. The organisation also supports several educational institutions in Africa that train Speech and Language Therapists.
Dr. Aboagye recounted her relationship with the U.S.-based NGO, which began in January 2019 from “a casual conversation about a U.S. Speech and Language therapy mission to Ghana and the possibility of partnering with a local institution for the exchange of skills and resources, and to learn more about the field in Ghana.” This interaction led to the successful visit of a team of over 15 speech and language therapists, nurses, and occupational therapists to Ghana in July 2019. During their week-long visit, they partnered with student Speech and Language Therapists from UHAS on outreach projects, which included treating patients at Accra Psychiatric Hospital and Buduburam Refugee Camp. Were it not for the COVID-19 Pandemic, Smiles for Speech had planned to visit Ho in 2020 to offer much-needed support to nearby rural communities.
Despite the travel constraints imposed by this global challenge, the organisation was keen to find other ways to continue supporting the Speech and Language Therapy profession in Ghana. They sent a clarion call to Speech and Language Therapists throughout the United States to donate items to establish the first Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences Library at UHAS. This call was answered resoundingly and led to the current donation of over 500 books, assessments, therapy resources and laptops to the University.
Dr. Aboagye (in left photo below) thanked Smiles for Speech for their generosity and support and said that the books and resources would greatly enhance the training of Speech and Language Therapists at UHAS.
Receiving the books on behalf of the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences, Prof. Eric Ofori, Dean of SAHS (in red necktie) expressed compliments and appreciation to Ms. Dorsey, Founder of Smiles for Speech and her entire network for their kindness and earnest support and complimented Dr. Aboagye on her efforts in fostering this relationship. He described the donation as a “welcome relief to the Department” and promised that necessary measures would be taken to ensure the items are utilised to promote the learning and training of speech, language and hearing therapists in Ghana and beyond.
The Dean mentioned the School’s plan to introduce a post-graduate programme in Speech and Language Therapy, and described this collaboration with Smiles for Speech as “timely and very welcome in the areas of curricular, faculty and student development.” He said the partnership is a laudable one that has potential to position UHAS as a pioneering centre of excellence for the training of speech and language not only in Ghana, but also across West Africa.
Dean Ofori also reiterated his suggestion to the University Library to establish a library for SAHS to enable faculty and students to have access to contemporary teaching and learning materials.
Dr. Hawa Osman, Assistant Librarian of the University, promised to process all the learning materials and make them available on the University’s e-learning portal.