The mission of the Munroe-Meyer Guild is to improve the quality of life for persons with disabilities through fundraising for the UNMC Munroe-Meyer Institute. Over the past 40-plus years, the major fundraiser for the Munroe-Meyer Guild has been the annual Garden Walk held in June. Proceeds from that event and others total more than $1 million over the past four decades. These funds that are generated through the Garden Walk are used to help fund programs at the institute that might otherwise go unfulfilled.
The Munroe-Meyer Guild Garden Walk is held the second Sunday in June each year.
The Munroe-Meyer Guild supports innovative projects and training at the institute. In 2017, the following grants – totaling $72,000 – were funded by the guild:
Speech-Language Pathology Department: “Use of Early Intervention Coaching Model to Increase Child Communication Skills”
Children communicate most readily and frequently with their parents/guardians, as these individual know them best. However, traditional speech-language intervention for children with language delays and impairments is often clinician-led, with caregivers taking on a "watch and listen" role. This limits the impact of the intervention, as many teaching moments occur outside of the therapy environment and there are fewer opportunities provided in a short therapy session. Speech pathologists demonstrate techniques used to help improve their child's speech and language during their child's therapy session, but caregivers often are not guided through the process to ensure they are doing it accurately.
This project developed a dedicated caregiver training program to offer training to caregivers in techniques to support their child's speech and language development and help build these techniques into their daily routine. Caregivers learned to follow their child's lead, match communication time, encourage turn taking, expand language, extend the topic and adapt the home environment for enriched play and language-based interactions. The program increased caregiver knowledge and involvement in the child's language learning and helped generalize these learned skills into the home and community settings.
Physical Therapy Department: “Safe Transport Clinic and Equipment Closet for Children with Special Health Needs”
Safe transportation of children in vehicles is regulated by law. But even with explicit guidelines, car seat "misuse" is reportedly as high as 74-90 percent. For parents of children with developmental needs, the task of selecting, purchasing, and implementing proper vehicle restraints is complicated. Such children rarely "fit" legal guideline criteria or are safe in conventional equipment. Differences in tone, strength, alignment, cardio-respiratory status, and/or body size are factors which complicate equipment choice. Expertise is necessary for "special needs" car seat safety in children or young adults with special health or developmental concerns.
Occupational Therapy Department: “MMI OpPOURtunity Brew Coffee Cart”
The MMI Occupational Therapy Department collaborated with the UNMC/Nebraska Medicine Project SEARCH staff to establish a mobile coffee cart at MMI. MMI OpPOURtunity Brew, as the cart is called, provides adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities a venue in which to learn how to take customer's order, make hot and cold espresso drinks, work a retail point-of-sale system, learn and practice workplace cleanliness, and practice safe food handling processes consistent with those in licensed establishments.
MMI Speech-Language Pathology and Occupational Therapy Departments: “Assistive Technology Simulated Home”
This grant was used to develop a Simulated Home that allows children and adults with disabilities to trial equipment to help give them independent control of the items in their home environment. This has helped determine what equipment will benefit them before they purchase the equipment. The program:
- established a simulated home with integrated and automated assistive technology (AT) controls;
- developed an interdisciplinary group of professional to explore and develop new AT tools; and
- increased opportunities for children and adults to trial and learn how to use new technology that will increase their independence to control the technology in their home.
MMI Education and Child Development Department: “Measuring Executive Functions* for NICU Graduates"
A pilot study was developed to examine the benefits of including the evaluation of executive functions for the high-risk NICU graduates attending MMI Developmental TIPS clinic into the standard clinical assessment practice. The results of this study will help to guide assessment practices, allow the clinical team to provide parents with developmental guidance related to the importance of executive function skills for this population of children and provide guidance for future scholarly contributions to this field of study.
*Executive functions are a set of cognitive processes that include attentional control, inhibitory control, self-regulation, working memory and cognitive flexibility, as well as reasoning, problem-solving and planning. Executive function skills play a key role in the regulation of behavior and learning and are linked to school readiness and academic success.