The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Danville News Wire

July 9, 2013

Aphasia center members support each other with club after facility becomes inactive

DANVILLE — Locals helped by the Central Pennsylvania Aphasia Center will continue its mission, even as the center itself closes its doors.

The center, founded in April 2011, announced in its newsletter earlier this month that it would be entering a period of inactivity due to difficulty in sustaining its mission, according to center executive director Robin Petrus.

Aphasia is a disorder which affects a person’s ability to communicate, as they have trouble associating words with their meanings. It is most commonly a result of strokes, or other brain injuries.

“Initially, I viewed this change as a failure to achieve my vision for the Center, but I now see this change in a different light,” wrote Petrus. “The Aphasia Center has transformed lives, connected people, and educated the community about aphasia and the need for long-term support. The mission does not end with the closing of a Center but continues as those of us touched by the organization go out into the world, sharing our ‘changed’ selves with others.”

And the center’s former members know the value of what Petrus taught them.

“It’s been a blessing,” said center member JoAnne Fisher. It was a place that felt safe, she said, because everyone there didn’t have to worry about making speaking mistakes.

She and others from the center plan to continue its mission, by forming the Aphasia Club, which will meet Fridays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the center’s previous location in Maria Hall.

While the club won’t have access to the speech therapy services that the center did, it will still offer a much needed chance for the group to socialize with each other. Too many people who suffer from aphasia, said Fisher, tend to stay home and don’t talk due to their difficulty communicating.

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