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UCM Awarded Grant to Assist Individuals with Parkinson’s Disease

By Jeff Murphy, July 25, 2019

Welch-Schmidt Center

Students and patients at the University of Central Missouri’s Welch-Schmidt Center for Communication Disorders will benefit from the 2019 SPEAK OUT!® & LOUD Crowd® Grant program developed by the Parkinson Voice Project®.


WARRENSBURG, MO (July 25, 2019) – The University of Central Missouri has been named a recipient of  the 2019 SPEAK OUT!® & LOUD Crowd® Grant program developed by the Parkinson Voice Project®, the only 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in the world solely dedicated to helping people with Parkinson’s disease improve their speech and swallowing. UCM’s Welch-Schmidt Center for Communication Disorders (WSCCD) will utilize the funds to enable students and patients at the center to work within the new program to assist individuals with Parkinson’s.


The Parkinson Voice Project is headquartered in Dallas, Texas. Launched in 2018, the SPEAK OUT!® & LOUD Crowd® Grant program includes 149 recipients of grants, which are up 62 percent from the 2018 inaugural year. Organizations served are located throughout the United States, and include five international clinics. The closest grant-funded organization to UCM is currently located in Clinton.


Grant recipients include hospitals, university speech therapy clinics, private practices and nonprofit Parkinson’s organizations. Each clinic will receive free training for their speech-language pathologist and graduate students, as well as speech therapy supplies. Some grant recipients also will receive funding to offset the cost of providing group speech therapy. UCM will utilize the WSCCD, located in the Martin Building, to offer the Parkinson Voice Project’s speech therapy program.


“Up to 90 percent of people with Parkinson’s are at high risk of losing their ability to speak, and aspiration pneumonia caused by swallowing issues accounts for 70 percent of the mortality rate in this patient population. Awarding these grants has substantially increased access to quality speech treatment for those living with Parkinson’s,” said Parkinson Voice Project’s founder and chief executive officer, Samantha Elandary.


The grant program honors Daniel R. Boone, Ph.D., a world-renowned speech-language pathologist and voice expert who recognized in the late 1950s that individuals with Parkinson’s could improve their communication if they spoke with “intent.” Parkinson Voice Project’s highly effective speech therapy program is based on Boone’s teachings and combines individual therapy (SPEAK OUT!®) with ongoing group therapy (LOUD Crowd®) to convert speech from an automatic function to an intentional act. 


The Parkinson Voice Project® operates a speech therapy clinic in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and also hosts the World’s Largest Chorus consisting of nearly 100 individuals with Parkinson’s whose voices have been restored through the program.


Through SPEAK OUT!® & LOUD Crowd®, the vision of Parkinson Voice Project® is to replicate its two-part therapy approach across the globe to help individuals with Parkinson’s preserve their speech and swallowing abilities. More than 1,600 speech-language pathologists have been trained to date, including clinicians in Australia, Canada, Finland, Greece, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Israel, and New Zealand.


We are very excited to have been named a recipient of the Parkinson Voice Project Grant,” said Bonnie Slavych, assistant professor of communication disorders at the WSCCD. “Not only will this grant provide funding for our graduate students to complete a specialized training in the treatment of a voice disorder as a result of Parkinson's disease but it will also provide funding for members of our community to receive treatment that they might not otherwise receive. We look forward to helping our neighbors and friends regain their voices so that they will have the confidence and satisfaction of participating in activities that they may have thought no longer possible.”


When individuals with Parkinson’s lose their speaking abilities, it has a tremendous impact on their lives by making it difficult to converse with family and friends, carry on telephone conversations and even order food at restaurants. This program will consist of weekly speech and therapy sessions while also offering camaraderie, support and encouragement to patients as they battle the progressive, degenerative effects of Parkinson’s.


The WSCCD is a self-contained unit that provides clinical training, and is situated in an 8,600-square-foot area on the lower level of the Martin Building at UCM. Students who are enrolled at UCM provide diagnostic and rehabilitative services to children and adults with communication and swallowing disorders from throughout the local community. 


Learn more about the Parkinson Voice Project® at  To learn more about UCM’s Welch-Schmidt Center for Communication Disorders, contact Brenda Dooley, clinic support coordinator, at 660-543-4993, email or visit


For more information contact:
Jeff Murphy
Assistant Director for Media Relations
Integrated Marketing and Communications


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