Communication board added at Sandy Knoll elementary school

North Central UP

MARQUETTE, Mich., (WJMN) – Picture exchange communication systems help people who are non-verbal or struggle with communicating, communicate through pictures.

The Home Builders Association of the U.P. became involved with helping get resources together for putting a PECS board on Sandy Knoll elementary school’s playground. Sarah Foster, executive director of the Home Builders Association, saw a post on Facebook from Neily Collick, the mom of a Sandy Knoll student with autism who is nonverbal.

“I just put the word out we like getting involved in the community and it is a great project and so we have Signs Now who made the signs, 41 Lumber donated all the posts, Tom Hall Contracting is here doing the install now and then we have several, several members and community members donating cash towards it as well,” said Foster.

Collick says she saw the idea in an article about a similar sign installed in St. Louis and brought it up to her daughter’s teacher. Signs aren’t cheap and Collick says when Foster heard of the idea she ran with it the board is helpful because sometimes children like Jade can’t find the words they need to communicate.

“If she comes to a moment where she wants to go on the slide or she wants to go over on the swingset she might not be able to find that word so she can walk up to this board and she’s going to recognize it from her actual device that she uses and she can point it right out,” said Collick.

Jen Bleckiner,a speech pathologist at Marquette Area Public Schools, says they use several picture communication methods with students who are nonverbal or have limited verbal abilities in the classroom including picture exchange cards and I-pads.

“When our students go outside a lot of times carrying something like an I-pad or a sheet of paper things like that is a lot, they don’t want anything to do with that,” said Bleckiner. “So having an outdoor communication board is going to be a great tool for our students not only to be able to communicate with the staff about what they might want to play on or things like that but also to communicate with our peers and having something like that that’s out on our playground for our students from pre-k up is going to give them an opportunity to explore it and find ways to communicate with our students that are nonverbal or have limited verbal abilities.”

Project Jade was started on Facebook to help fund signs for the elementary school, Lakenenland, Delta Schoolcraft ISD – The Learning Center, Cherry Creek Elementary, Superior Hills, Gravereat and others.

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