Chap. (Maj.) Rob Belton, daughter Danae Belton Ambassador Award recipient and wife Meredith Belton pose at the South Carolina Speech Language Hearing Association annual awards luncheon held at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center on Feb. 14.

By Mel Slater

U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School Public Affairs

Family members are an important part of a Soldiers success and well-being. When a Family succeeds in some endeavor, the Soldier is one of the proudest and biggest supporters.

Danae Belton, a fourth-grader at C.C. Pinckney Elementary and child of a Chaplain School chaplain on Fort Jackson, has given her Family something of which to be very proud.

Belton was named the 2020 Ambassador for the South Carolina Speech Language Hearing Association at the annual awards luncheon held at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center on Feb. 14.

She was chosen from a group of students for her dedication and hard work to overcome her speech difficulties. She has demonstrated outstanding perseverance.

“I was able to fix my s and z sounds pretty quickly but my r’s were tricky, at first,” Danae said. “It took work and practice but now I can do it.  I now feel more confident when I speak and I have been able to get speaking parts in musical concerts and in the talent show.”

Danae is an ideal choice for SCSHA Ambassador.

She met the criteria outlined in the South Carolina Speech and Hearing Association Ambassador Award qualifications. The Ambassador Award is given to honor a person with a communication impairment who has demonstrated outstanding perseverance. An award nomination packet is submitted.   The packet is reviewed by an awards committee and a vote is held to determine the award recipient.

“It feels like a big deal and makes me feel overjoyed,” Danae said. “By being named the SCSHA Ambassador I will be invited to visit the Governor of South Carolina during Better Speech and Hearing Month in May. I hope that when I visit the Governor, I can tell him that I think speech therapy in schools is very important because it helps people understand you better.”

School speech language pathologist, Kerrie Ammons, spoke highly of Danae and her accomplishments.

“Danae has been receiving speech support for a year and a half, and she has already remediated and generalized error sounds into her writing, reading and speaking moments,” Ammons said. “That has to be a record. I have never had a student make so much gains in such a short amount of time. Danae is a role model, a good friend to her peers and she’s a speech coach to those who are in her speech group. She finds value in having speech therapy in schools and feels that because of her speech intervention, she has gained confidence to pursue speaking opportunities in school performances.”

Danae is one of two students who have received honors in the same year.

“I feel overwhelmed with joy for these students’ accomplishments,” Ammons said. “The honor for me did not come with the announcement of an award or a publication, but when the students expressed confidence and risk-taking behaviors to make a change for a better self. The day they committed to improved speech, language, and fluency skills; was the day I felt my heart swell with pride.”

Danae is the daughter of Chaplain (Maj.) Rob and Meredith Belton. Belton is a World Religions and Advisement Small Group Leader in the Chaplain Basic Officer Leader Course at the Army Chaplain Center and School. They moved to Fort Jackson last year.

Danae was recommended by her 3rd grade teacher for speech therapy and has been in the program for a year and a half. She has been working hard and doing extremely well. Her parents have seen her growth over the period.

“We are so proud of her hard work and determination,” Belton said.  “She’s had a great attitude throughout her time in speech. We are very thankful for her and for the great people who have helped her along the way.”

Danae is very thankful for the recognition received.

“I think it is good that the South Carolina Speech and Hearing Association encourages recognition of kids who improve their speech,” she added.

Fort Jackson Commanding General, Brig. Gen. Milford H. Beagle Jr.,  is scheduled to visit Danae in her school Feb. 25.