Conversation Groups projects for individuals with acquired communication disorders celebrated

Posted on October 24, 2013

The Open Evening is a public information event aiming to share information about the Conversation Group projects worked on through the year by the members of the group, in collaboration with their final year student facilitators, under the supervision of Dr Glenn Goldblum. In so doing, awareness is raised about the obstacles such individuals encounter in everyday life in a largely uninformed society that avoids, or is uncomfortable when interacting with these kinds of individuals.

Almost 200 people attended, including past and present group participants, family, friends and students, including a number of past facilitators who have run the groups that were started 18 years ago by Dr Goldblum in 1995.

The program for the evening included presentations by the student facilitators describing the various advocacy-focused projects, accompanied by interesting video clips that highlighted the full participation of the individuals on the various projects.

A very exciting project this year has been the launching of the iPad Conversation Group, the first of its kind in a University conversation group setting in South Africa. Ten iPads were donated by Pick 'n Pay Northern region this year and over the past few months, the student facilitators have learned ways to adapt their training methods and materials to optimise the participation and learning by the Conversation Group members. All the members, irrespective of the severity of their communication disorder, have enjoyed participating in this group. They used the iPad to take photos, and also used an app called Pictello to write their own story, titled: “The magic of our Conversation Group”.

A highlight of the program was the live collaboration with the Aphasia Treatment Program of California State University, East Bay (CSUEB) (directed by Ellen Bernstein Ellis), in a global concert via Skype, which combined the talents of our choir with individuals with aphasia, the Siyathemba Singers (directed by Mrs Tanya Brown, a Music Therapist), with those of CSUEB's Aphasia Tones. Each group performed an original and informing song about aphasia, and the two groups then sang a joint choral performance of the song "Lean on Me". It was an extraordinarily special and unique event, with the audience joining in to share in the joy of the collaboration.

These aphasia programs at CSUEB and the University of Pretoria have partnered on various projects throughout the years, and have formed a strong connection despite being a world apart. This is the third collaborative Skype call of these groups, which serve to highlight the universality of aphasia and cognitive-communication disorders, and as a result, our group members feel less alone in their journeys.

Altogether the Open Evening was a very special evening, highlighting the resilience of the Conversation Group members, and most importantly, how life continues, in spite of the difficulties and challenges of living with an acquired communication disorder.

For further information contact:

Dr Glenn Goldblum on: [email protected]

Phone: 012 420 2816

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