Dane Barse Elementary School students in Vineland have a colorful new addition to their playground—an innovative communication board. The new tool, introduced by speech therapist Montana Jacobs, will allow nonverbal students to communicate by pointing to pictures to express their thoughts and feelings.
“We had seen a couple of local parks that had these boards, and we figured with the population that we serve here—some of them being non-speaking, some of them being communications-impaired—we could supplement their ability to communicate on the playground without having to carry a book or board,” said Jacobs. “We thought it would be something beneficial for everyone, not just for our kids that struggle with communication, but also for encouraging acceptance and understanding.”
Jacobs worked with the self-contained teachers in the school to design the board using images and words that the students would be familiar with. Then, with the support of Barse principal Joe Camardo and district Director of Special Education Teri Godlewski, Jacobs had the board created and installed.
“It really was a team effort,” Jacobs said. “It’s something that was simple, and I think the benefits are going to be far-reaching.”
Third-graders Abby Gentile and Airesellis Dawkins had both noticed the board on the playground but hadn’t had a chance to use it yet.
“It helps kids who can’t talk be able to talk to us,” Airesellis explained. “Then we can help them with things.”