WMU News

Students win award to boost post-stroke communication

Nov. 25, 1997

KALAMAZOO -- Two Western Michigan University graduate students will receive money from a fund established by a Paw Paw family to promote better communication options for people with stroke-induced language problems.

Erica L. VonBehren of Lansing, Ill., and Kristen L. Cinco of Cadillac, Mich., both master's students in WMU's Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, will share the $500 Kensel Giddings Award in Aphasia Education for the 1997-98 academic year. Aphasia is a speech-language disorder that often results from a stroke or head injury and hinders speaking and understanding of speech, reading and writing.

Cinco and VonBehren will use their award to work with members of the Stroke Club at Kalamazoo's Coover Senior Center, serving as language facilitators and assisting with activities for members of the club who have aphasia. They also will serve as community liaisons for the club.

The award is named for Giddings, a lifelong Paw Paw resident who was a general contractor and a community volunteer. Giddings became a client of WMU's famed Van Riper Language, Speech and Hearing Clinic after a 1984 stroke left him partially paralyzed and suffering from aphasia. His family established the award program after his death in 1992.

The Giddings award is made annually to a student or students in a planned graduate course of study leading to a career in aphasia rehabilitation. A strong interest in aphasia and prior experience as a community volunteer are among requirements for those applying for the award.

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