In 2016, Alice King was chosen to take part in the City University Project, which sends up to eight newly qualified Speech and Language therapists to Cambodia each year. Alice spent 16 weeks providing communication and language therapy training to teachers who work with children with disabilities across Cambodia. She funded the majority of the volunteer placement herself through various fundraisers, sponsored runs and events. Her work was also supported by a £280 Individual Grant for Volunteering from the Jack Petchey Foundation.
There are only a handful of special needs schools in Cambodia and the teachers that work in them are often not trained specifically to work with children with disabilities. Alice worked in four different schools in Cambodia, where she delivered numerous five-day training courses to 58 teachers in total. Within these sessions she covered the basics of speech, language and communication, expressive language, social communication, and challenging behavior and sensory needs. During each session, Alice worked with an interpreter who translated the sessions into Khmer. She also prepared handouts and PowerPoint presentations in Khmer for teachers to refer back to in the future.
Alice received positive feedback about the training, with the participants especially enjoying the practical activities, particularly the opportunity to role-play and practice the strategies she taught. In each session teachers reported that they felt more confident in supporting children with communication difficulties and they worked with Alice to discuss strategies which would support the children they work with. For example, creating a communication book and making picture resources for children who are non-verbal or implementing a visual timetable to support children’s understanding of routines
It is hoped that this training will enable children with disabilities to have better access to education and to communicate successfully. The project also aims for the specialist skills and knowledge to be passed on to future teachers
Alice said of her time in Cambodia, “I now have a greater confidence in my clinical knowledge and in giving advice to teachers and parents. I also have a greater confidence in delivering training and speaking to large groups of people. I feel better equipped to start my job as a Speech and Language Therapist in the UK.”
“Living abroad has also given me a wider perspective on life and challenged me on a personal and professional level… I have learnt to work as part of a team, to share ideas and to think flexibly. It has been incredibly rewarding to work with Cambodian staff and to problem solve and create resources together”
Congratulations Alice for volunteering your time to teach your specialist skills and knowledge to those in need!
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