Loyola faculty members receive Changemaker Challenge Award
| By Molly Robey
Lisa Schoenbrodt, Ed.D., professor of speech-language-hearing sciences and department chair, and Leah Katherine Saal, Ph.D., assistant professor of literacy and co-director of the literacy program, were awarded a $10,000 cash prize for their submission in the Howard County Changemaker Challenge competition.
Schoenbrodt and Saal’s winning presentation, Strategic Training for Empathic Emergency Response (STEER), is a training program that will help improve communication between emergency personnel and individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Schoenbrodt and Saal plan to use the cash prize to begin training sessions in Howard County in 2020.
“With the help of this award we will be able to train up to 500 emergency response workers in Howard County,” said Saal. “There are more than 22,000 people in Howard County who have disabilities, so the chance of an EMS or fire and rescue personnel assisting someone with a disability is not only likely—it’s almost certain. We hope this training program will have a long-term beneficial impact on the community.”
In partnership with Schoenbrodt and Saal, the Howard County Fire and EMS and the ARC of Howard County will create a curriculum for a training program between emergency personnel and self-advocate educators. This program will help targeted first responders better understand behavior patterns in individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities during crises or emergency situations and teach them ways to effectively communicate. Schoenbrodt and Saal hope to train up to five self-advocate educators so that they can carry out the STEER training throughout Howard County for many years to come. They recently received a separate grant to continue and expand training in Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, and Baltimore City.
The Changemaker Challenge is an event co-hosted by the Horizon Foundation and the United Way of Central Maryland. Contestants are challenged with submitting innovative ideas from the arts, environment, and health and social services that will benefit Howard County. This year’s challenge featured nine finalists with four winners receiving $60,000.
Schoenbrodt and Saal were one of two teams that received $10,000 for ideas on how to make Howard County safer and more accessible for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.