By: Treslyn Fletcher
School of Communication

CONWAY— Fourteen University of Central Arkansas students spent their spring 2017 semester giving back to the community by working with Conway Cradle Care, a nonprofit organization that assists expectant and parenting adolescents.

Students enrolled in the service-learning family communication course, taught by Dr. Nelle Bedner, professor in the School of Communication, collectively spent over 200 hours helping Kelsey Powell, the executive director of Conway Cradle Care, by volunteering at the location, conducting research, writing papers based on their findings and creating ways to help the nonprofit thrive.

“The overall goal is to help understand how, through communication, we develop, maintain, enhance, or disturb family relationships, which can help promote healthy family communication in our own families as well as those in the community,” said Bedner.

By volunteering at Conway Cradle Care and conducting communication-based research, students were able to select a topic of family communication, which they believe each family should practice. Examples of the topics include reaching developmental milestones, the importance of loving touch and the art of listening. Students then used this knowledge to write a paper explaining the importance of the topic and create fact sheet graphics to appeal to adolescent parents.

“I graduated from Conway High School, and I knew about Conway Cradle Care, but I never really knew how the organization functioned internally,” said Ali Taylor, UCA sophomore. “I loved getting to see the work done by the organization.”

For their final project, the students developed a “toolbox” to help Conway Cradle Care teach their clients the importance of these communication-based skills. The tools included were icebreaker game, an original case study with discussion questions, a song, a “daddy” bag and more. The toolbox was presented to Conway Cradle Care for their use.

“I enjoyed our class discussions and the ability this course project gave us to apply communication in a real-world setting,” said Frankye Jimenez, UCA senior. “I hope our tools will be projected and multiplied in an applicable way for each parent and child.”