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Spalding, enTECH receive $275,000 grant from Kosair Charities

Funds will be used to add new assistive technology and continue a pediatric occupational therapy fieldwork program

Steve Jones

Kosair Charities has awarded a grant of $275,000 to Spalding University for the 2018-19 year that will be used to enhance and support growth at the Kosair Charities Enabling Technologies of Kentuckiana (enTECH) assistive technology resource center, which primarily serves children with special needs, and to continue a pediatric fieldwork cooperative involving Spalding occupational therapy graduate students.

The grant continues the longtime support of Kosair Charities for Spalding and enTECH, which provides affordable access to assistive-technology toys and therapeutic devices while also offering therapy and community engagement programs. Since 2014, Kosair Charities has contributed more than $1.2 million to enTECH, Spalding’s Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy and the Spalding School of Nursing.

“EnTECH is a tremendous community resource on Spalding’s campus that uses modern technology to help children learn, grow and play,” said Keith Inman, President of Kosair Charities. “We support its desire to grow and serve as many children and families as possible as this directly aligns with our mission.”

“Through the Kosair Charities Scholars Program, students will gain valuable pediatric fieldwork experience. We support the efforts of Spalding’s Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy to train skilled, compassionate students who want to work with kids.”

enTECH improvements

Located on Spalding’s campus at 812 S. Second St., enTECH will use $200,000 of the 2018-19 grant funding in the following ways:

● Create “switch camps” and pre-vocational computer training for children 10-17 years old who have disabilities or limited mobility. The camps will introduce the children to assistive technology devices known as switches that allow users to navigate a computer and operate programs such as Microsoft Word and Excel. Conventional keyboards, mouse devices and other computer accessories are often inaccessible to individuals with limited mobility, making it difficult to get a job or succeed in classroom environments that require typing on a word processor, entering data or navigating a web browser.

EnTECH will upgrade its computer lab with switches that are designed to sense pressure, heat, puffs of air or facial movements in order to detect computer users’ intentions and help them navigate a program.

● Purchase two interactive autism robots – known as Milo ($7,500) and Nao ($10,500) – that will help children on the autism spectrum develop skills such as communicating verbally, making eye contact and understanding what others are thinking or feeling.

Milo has a life-like face that mimics emotions, and the robot speaks directly to the child. Nao performs fun, playful actions like playing a drum, pointing and dancing.

● Purchase four OptiMusic Beam systems ($7,500 each) that use a combination of lights and sounds to encourage children with disabilities to explore and interact with their environment. EnTECH’s Kosair Virtual Immersive Playground room already has four OptiMusic Beams, and their popularity has led to increased demand.

● Renovate the entryway and transitional spaces of the enTECH facility – housed in the former Kosair Shrine Temple – into a lively, clearly defined space that is appealing for children and celebrates Spalding’s partnership with Kosair Charities.

● Revamp the enTECH website and enhance enTECH’s marketing efforts in order to help grow the number of children receiving services and resources.

Continuation of Kosair Charities Scholars Program

The other $75,000 of grant funding will be used to continue and expand the pediatric fieldwork cooperative known as the Kosair Charities Scholars Program, which began in 2016. The grant will fund stipends for 15 graduate students from the Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy to perform their 12-week Level II training at approved child-centric sites.

The fieldwork placements will result in dozens of children receiving services.

To qualify for the Kosair Charities Scholars Program, students must commit to working with children or providing occupational therapy services to youth for a minimum of three years after graduation.

“We’re extremely grateful for the support of Kosair Charities,” said Cindee Quake-Rapp, chair of the Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy. “This grant will help make enTECH an even better resource for children, and it will strengthen Spalding’s ability to train great pediatric therapists.”

About enTECH: Kosair Charities’ Enabling Technologies of Kentuckiana (enTECH) is a division of the Spalding University Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy. It is one of five state-designated assistive technology resource centers in Kentucky. Its mission is to create assistive technology solutions to meet the needs of the times through the enhancement of all people’s participation in everyday life activities. More information is available at entech.spalding.edu.

About the Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy: Established in 1995, Spalding’s Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy prepares students to become outstanding occupational therapy practitioners in varied health, education and community settings. Its nationally ranked master’s-level training program is leading the way by transitioning to a doctorate-level program well prior to a deadline mandated by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education. More information is available at spalding.edu/occupational-therapy.

About Kosair Charities: Established in 1923, Kosair Charities’ mission is to protect the health and well-being of children in Kentucky and Southern Indiana by providing financial support for clinical services, research, pediatric healthcare education and child advocacy. More information is available at kosair.org.