CHATHAM, ON, Nov 8, 2023 – A fundraising challenge that began as a solo adventure five years ago continues to build awareness and raise funds year after year. Kaitlyn Smoke started the “Let’s Take AACtion” challenge to raise awareness and funds for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) awareness month. This year, with a team of six participants, the Let’s Take AACtion campaign raised $1,700 for the Augmentative Communication Services (ACS) Department at the Children’s Treatment Centre of Chatham-Kent.
During the month of October, each participant spent 24-hours without the use of verbal speech and instead using an AAC application to communicate with others. The goal of the challenge is for participants to gain a better understanding of the experiences of individuals who use AAC and become more mindful of ways to promote inclusivity in our community for these individuals.
Leading the Let’s Take AAC is something very close to Smoke as her older sister, Alyson, used AAC through head switches to communicate with others, and she finds it incredibly important in helping individuals have a voice.
“I often found people didn’t know how to interact with my sister Aly,” said Smoke. “My goal has been to help educate others and help them understand more about AAC so they can be more accepting and willing to engage with all members of our community.”
Participants in the Let’s Take AACtion campaign shared their experiences using an AAC device on the “Let’s Take AACtion” Facebook page, where community members can learn, ask questions, and interact with challenge participants.
Children’s Treatment Centre of Chatham-Kent staff member, Melissa Gillett, was excited for the opportunity to participate in this years campaign, “This was my second year participating in the Let’s Take AACtion Campaign, and it’s quickly becoming one of my favourite days of the year. I love that Kaitlyn has found this incredible way to honour her sister while spreading awareness for people who rely on alternative ways to communicate.”
The campaign is also used to fundraise for the ACS Department at the Children’s Treatment Centre of Chatham-Kent, where many children learn and develop their abilities with AAC devices to communicate. To date, 19 participants have taken part in the campaign, raising over $8,265, which helps provide services for children in our community.
To stay up to date with the Let’s Take AACtion campaign, visit their Facebook page.
Pictured L-R: Donna Litwin-Makey, Melissa Gillett, Erin Genge, Kaityn Smoke, Tracy Koehler and Lindsay Dienesch. Melissa, Erin, Kaitlyn and Lindsay took part in the challenge.