Students donate time to help those with speech disorders


By Travis Wood, Contributor

This special section of the Gateway, which features stories on UNO students and faculty who volunteer, was submitted by  the School of Communication’s “News Writing and Reporting” students, under the supervision of Professor Kevin Warneke.


Sometimes the smile on a child’s face is all the thanks a person needs.

The National Student Speech Language Hearing Association chapter at UNO is a volunteer organization dedicated to helping those with speech disorders and raising awareness in the community.

NSSLHA works closely with the Autism Society of Nebraska, and participates in several events throughout the city, including weekly dance classes for children with special needs and “Pump It Up,” a monthly event where members interact and play with autistic children while their parents attend support meetings.

NSSLHA also hosted an annual fundraiser for the Autism Society on April 5 called, “Together We Can.” The event was held in the Sapp Fieldhouse and offered carnival games, face painting, a photo booth and a bounce house. Later that night, a three-on-three sports tournament was held to generate additional money.

“We raised $4,400, and we’re going to look at our account and try and give them $5,000,” said Haley Jacobsen, NSSLHA treasurer.

The organization has also volunteered for Community 360, the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, Open Door Mission and Service to Mankind.

Whitney Franklin, president of the UNO chapter, said most members are speech-language pathology majors. NSSLHA allows them to apply the skills they’ve learned in class toward their volunteering.

“We’re able to see how these kids react in frustrating situations, compared to what a typical developing kid would,” Franklin said.

Franklin said parents love the effort NSSLHA puts into their volunteer work, and that the Autism Society appreciates their work and flexibility in return.

Jennifer Dotson, another member of NSSLHA, said she loves to help children, especially because her little sister is autistic.

“I felt like I had something to give to those kiddos, and I love it. I look forward to volunteering with them, and it gives me a sense of satisfaction to know that I’m helping these kids,” Dotson said.

Franklin encourages everyone to volunteer at least once, because there are no bad experiences.

“Being a student isn’t the easiest thing in life,” Franklin said, “but I think [volunteering] adds to your character, makes you a better person when you volunteer your time.”