Opinion

Walk for Brighter Futures makes a difference for the hard of hearing

I am very fortunate that my children and grandchildren are healthy, smart and strong. I have never taken that for granted and I give thanks for that every chance I get. We were fortunate that the system which is set up for children, and the  access to the extended care and professional expertise that we needed, was there for us.

We learned what it was like to live away from the home for six weeks, and what it was like to share concerns and fears with other parents as we stressed over the conditions of our infants.  I applaud those who move into the field of pediatric medicine. I also acknowledge the strength of those parents of children who are diagnosed with serious and life changing medical conditions.

This weekend, I am emcee at the 11th year of the Walk for Bright Futures sponsored by the Langley Elks and Royal Purple. Over the years, the local Elks have raised over $125,000 from this event for the B.C. Family Hearing Resource Society and have been instrumental in the construction and development of the B.C. Family Hearing Resource Centre in Surrey.

It has been determined that four to five of every 1,000 babies born in B.C. are born with deafness or hearing loss. The centre has remarkable programs to assess, treat and monitor children from infancy through to high school.

It provides home-based instruction, sign language instruction, speech language and auditory therapy for  the clients. The families do not have to be on their own and have access to any and all new treatment.

The proposed budget shortfalls for education across the province raises concerns for the parents, not only the hearing impaired but many other special needs children as well. Some of the first programs to go involve the elimination of many special education assistants.  Many deaf and hard of hearing kids rely on this support in school.

Take for instance a recent graduate of UBC, Rosalind Ho, who graduated from high school with 10 scholarships. Rosalind is also profoundly deaf. Diagnosed with deafness in both ears at just eight months old, Rosalind wore hearing aids for the first few years of her life. At the age of four, she was one of the first children in B.C. to receive a cochlear implant.

The care, support and education that Rosalind and her family received at BCFHRS laid the basis for a very successful lifetime of learning. Without her support system throughout her school years, the outcome may have been somewhat different.

The good weather brings out many opportunities to support many organizations fighting for so many worthwhile causes. It gives us a chance to get out and raise funds for those parents who are sitting beside beds in hospitals or clinics or spending endless hours providing physical and moral support to their kids and can’t get out to participate.

Many parents and grandparents enjoy sitting in the stands at hockey games or at the baseball fields. Nothing buoys the spirit more than watching kids score a goal or hit a home run. So many of us are fortunate to see that. But many can’t.

This year the Bright Futures event will be held on Sunday, May 25 at 10 a.m. Campbell Valley Regional Park in Langley.  Do the walk, buy a T-shirt and a hamburger. You can make a difference. At least that’s what McGregor says.

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