Maureen Dykinga, MS, CCC-SLP, reached out to TalkTools last year to request a donation for SPOON Foundation's upcoming trip to Mauritius. The goal of this trip was to train the local caregivers to use good feeding techniques with children living in shelters. That mission was close to our heart as we strive to teach and spread good feeding techniques throughout the world too! If this resonates with you too, feel free to make a donation here.
Here Maureen writes about her trip and the organization's mission in general.
"SPOON is the only organization worldwide focused on the issue of malnutrition for children living outside of permanent family care. SPOON has worked in 12 countries since 2007, using tools specifically designed to accommodate the unique nutrition and feeding needs of children impacted by disability and/or institutional care. In many areas where SPOON works around the globe, there is no access to specialized feeding equipment such as maroon spoons and flexi-cups. For children who have complex feeding challenges, these items are essential for promoting safety during mealtimes. In addition to providing training and education on feeding, we at SPOON provide the equipment and model its use, with the goal that we will decrease the number of children fed with their heads tipped back, and those fed bite sizes too large to be managed safely. These solutions have been proven to drastically reduce malnutrition and life-threatening feeding practices in institutions, foster care, and community settings."
"In November, SPOON traveled to Mauritius to train caregivers of children living outside of permanent family care on proper feeding techniques for children with disabilities. In the Mauritius shelters we visited, we saw children with disabilities being offered drinks with their head tipped back, causing dangers of aspiration and choking. Children were also being fed large bit sizes by scraping the food off of the spoon into their mouths. We utilized TalkTools' donated flexi-cups to train caregivers on offering children with disabilities drinks without tipping the child’s head back, decreasing the risk for aspiration while drinking. We also trained caregivers to use donated TalkTools' maroon spoons, which allowed the children to take in smaller bite sizes and, with assistance and the maroon spoon, begin to develop lip closure skills. These critical feeding tools, paired with our training, will increase these children’s feeding skills, leading to increased safety, efficiency, and skill building during feeding. As these feeding practices improve, we hope to see improved health in the children as well as promoting dignity and a better quality of life."
Here's Maureen Dykinga, MS, CCC-SLP's bio from the SPOON Foundation website: "Maureen is a pediatric speech-language pathologist with a background in improving the lives of those with feeding, communication, and cognitive difficulties. She has devoted the majority of her career to the birth to three population, with a special focus on supporting medically fragile individuals and their caregivers. Maureen spent the past 13 years as a business owner and entrepreneur, running a small private practice in Tucson, Arizona. She used her collaborative efforts both professionally and philanthropically to develop and promote systems that improve quality of life for this special population. Maureen has brought her passion for advocating for underserved populations to the Pacific Northwest and along with her husband and furry family of pets, is developing a newfound love of rain!"
Maureen can be reached via comments below.