August 1, 2023

Bridgeway Donates Pocketalk to United Junior High School, Transforming a Student’s Education Experience

“Just because you might not understand a language, doesn’t mean you have any less to say.” -Jessica Boock

In rural West Central Illinois, Bridgeway, a non-profit community social service organization, recently created waves of change at United Junior High School. Their donation of a Pocketalk device to the school had a profound effect on Alejandro, a student facing language barriers, and sparked remarkable academic growth.

Understanding the importance of accessible services, Bridgeway’s System of Care Coordinator, Jessica Boock, tirelessly worked to address the diverse needs of children in the YES (Youth Empowerment Services) System of Care, funded by the Illinois Children Health Care Foundation’s Children’s Mental Health Initiative 3.0. Language barriers emerged as a significant challenge hindering effective support in the community.

Rural West Central Illinois boasts a vibrant mix of cultures, a population drawn to the area by Smithfield Foods, who speak a variety of languages which can often make navigating and accessing community resources a struggle. Unfortunately, the shortage of translators limits effective communication, preventing families from accessing essential services.

In Jessica’s quest for a solution, she discovered Pocketalk. Recognizing its potential to bridge the communication gap, Jessica purchased her first Pocketalk device in 2021.

Just a year later, Jessica attended a narrative publishing party at United Junior High School, organized by English teacher Melinda Fry, to read stories written by her son and his classmates detailing their own personal narrative. Among the stories, Jessica stumbled upon Alejandro’s tale, despite its flawed translation, the message of his journey and life experience resonated deeply.

Inspired by Alejandro’s story and armed with her familiarity with Pocketalk, Jessica donated a Pocketalk Plus to the school for Alejandro. The impact was instantaneous and extraordinary. Alejandro was now able to communicate with his peers, actively participate in class, and even share jokes. His language skills flourished, progressing from a first-grade to a sixth-grade reading level within a single academic year.

“Before receiving this device, Alejandro was completely lost in class while not understanding the lessons and assignments. In addition, he was sadly isolated when it came to socializing with his peers and communicating with his teachers,” said Melinda Fry, “However, once he received the Pocketalk device, Alejandro soared in 7th-grade.”

This transformation in Alejandro’s education journey is nothing short of inspiring. With the aid of Pocketalk, Alejandro not only understood and retained information but also developed his English language skills significantly.

Alejandro’s success story and the positive outcomes witnessed at United Junior High School highlight the significance of overcoming language barriers with Pocketalk. Bridgeway aims to expand the use of Pocketalk devices to other organizations and schools in the region, as they have proven to be effective tools in facilitating communication, enhancing inclusivity, and empowering individuals to access the services they deserve.

“Just because you might not understand a language, doesn’t mean you have any less to say,” said Jessica Boock.

Bridgeway’s impactful donation of a Pocketalk device at United Junior High School transformed Alejandro’s education experience, breaking down language barriers and fostering remarkable academic growth. This serves as a reminder of the importance of inclusive education and Bridgeway’s commitment to utilizing Pocketalk devices to empower individuals and communities in rural West Central Illinois.