Engage listening, writing skills with pen pals

The Baylor chapter of the National Student Speech, Language and Hearing Association is relaunching its pen pal service project where students can write letters to people in the Waco community. Audrey La | Photographer

By Brenna Kubinski | Reporter

Baylor’s chapter of the National Student Speech, Language and Hearing Association is hosting a pen pal service project over the course of this semester in hopes of benefiting the Greater Waco community.

NSSLHA is bringing back its service project event where current members can send and receive handwritten letters to students at J.H. Hines Elementary School, clients of Friends for Life in Waco or patients at the Baylor Speech, Language and Hearing Clinic.

NSSLHA has three meetings every semester where it discusses its goals for upcoming service projects and networks with other individuals in the program.

Geneva, Ill., junior Amanda Werner, co-service chair of NSSLHA, said this service project is beneficial to both the NSSLHA members participating as well as the elementary students, clinic patients and the older adults receiving these letters.

“This project allows the elementary students and clinic patients to put into practice reading and writing instead of only working in a classroom setting,” Werner said. “They finally get to see their hard work pay off by putting their skills toward a real goal.”

This year, letters are being sent either once a month or every other week by the participating NSSLHA members.

Werner participated in this service project last year, and said she found herself looking forward to receiving her letters from her assigned elementary student.

“I really enjoyed when I participated in this service project last year and found it to be very beneficial, so I figured we should bring it back this year,” Werner said. “I think everyone would love to receive those letters and bring joy to someone’s day.”

Pearland senior Michaela Branch, president of Baylor’s chapter of NSSLHA, said the group is a student organization for future speech pathologists and audiologists looking for a community to connect with and serve in.

“NSSLHA is the only national student organization for pre-professionals studying communication sciences and disorders,” Branch said. “[NSSLHA] is the only one recognized by the American Speech, Language and Hearing Association.”

Branch said this service project is based entirely on communication and community.

“In our field, having a communication partner is really important,” Branch said. “This project gives students, the elderly and patients the opportunity to communicate in a way they might not normally participate in, and I think having a pen pal offers a really fun and unique way to go about that.”