Founding Director of DePaul University’s Speech-Language Pathology Program serves families in Belize

It came about through a series of fortuitous events. In 2020, the year before DePaul welcomed its inaugural cohort, Dr. Jayne Jaskolski was immersed in the Chicago community building partnerships.

One meeting brought her to Chicago Speech Therapy, a pediatric speech therapy practice founded by Karen George. Jayne had heard of Karen and her team and was aware of their reputation for providing exceptional speech therapy services.

“When I was looking for partners and therapy centers that could work closely with DePaul, Chicago Speech Therapy and Karen George were on the top of my list. However, I did not expect that this connection would lead me to serve in an international capacity,” says Jayne.

Karen George and her team have a passion to serve children who need therapy services. “Outside of the U.S., many children receive very little or no therapy services,” says Karen. “It is just heartbreaking.” Karen and her clinical team wanted to be part of the solution, so Karen and other senior leaders kept brainstorming and thinking. That thinking led to Therapy Adventures.

In 2018, through her newly founded nonprofit Therapy Adventures, Karen and her team started building partnerships with organizations in Latin America and the Caribbean. One of these organizations was Autism Belize, a nonprofit founded by Christy Almeida. Christy and her nonprofit support Belizean families impacted by autism.

One day, Jayne received a text from the offices of Therapy Adventures. They were inviting her to spend a week in Belize and participate in a cross-cultural service trip. Given DePaul’s Speech-Language Pathology Program’s mission to foster a global perspective and serve underserved communities, this was a perfect opportunity.

Along with a group of other volunteer students, clinicians, and Therapy Adventures’ local staff, Jayne served in Belize. Jayne, who works to embody the Vincentian mission of St Vincent de Paul, found that DePaul’s mission and the mission of Therapy Adventures in Belize were perfectly aligned.

“To say the experience was life-changing, is an understatement,” says Jayne. “This was a transformative experience to support the beautiful work already being done in Belize with cultural responsiveness. This was such a rich opportunity for our team to examine our own cultural humility throughout the process. Jayne is collaborating with her program on several projects to return to Belize with DePaul students and to continue to spread the word about the work Therapy Adventures is doing.

Jayne feels that the field of speech-language pathology is full of unimaginable relationships and unexpected partnerships. “I never imagined that a connection to Chicago Speech Therapy would lead me to Therapy Adventures and the amazing people of Belize, but I am beyond grateful and blessed that it did.”

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