Boy ben­e­fits from gift of sound

Eastern Courier - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - LIU CHEN

Three-year-old Owen Jia of Golflands is a lively boy who likes to play har­mon­ica and with his toy train.

He and his mum Jen­nifer are among the cham­pi­ons of Loud Shirt Day on Septem­ber 29, the an­nual ap­peal for The Hear­ing House and the South­ern Cochlear Im­plant Pro­gramme.

The cochlear im­plants, which Owen re­ceived when six months old, have be­come like a nat­u­ral part of his body.

As well as go­ing to kinder­garten, he at­tends au­di­tory-ver­bal ther­apy classes at The Hear­ing House with his mother once a month.

His hear­ing loss was picked up when he was born - pro­found hear­ing loss in the left ear and a high-fre­quency loss in the right - but he now speaks both English and Man­darin Chi­nese.

‘‘If it wasn’t for The Hear­ing House, with­out the on­go­ing help from the ther­a­pists, we could never pro­vide suf­fi­cient help by just talk­ing to him,’’ Jen­nifer says.

‘‘Peo­ple should be aware of the changes cochlear im­plants and the char­i­ties’ ser­vices bring to a child.

‘‘Life would be­come much eas­ier for them when they can play and com­mu­ni­cate with other kids in the kinder­garten.’’

Owen is one of hun­dreds of chil­dren who get help from the or­gan­i­sa­tions. The Hear­ing House works with chil­dren from Tu­rangi to the top of the North Is­land, and South­ern Cochlear cov­ers the rest of the coun­try. While the ser­vices are pro- vided for free to fam­i­lies, they rely heav­ily on pub­lic do­na­tions to be de­liv­ered.

The Hear­ing House’s fundrais­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager Me­lanie Louden calls on peo­ple to get in­volved and help change the lives of deaf and hear­ing-im­paired chil­dren.

‘‘The more peo­ple that sign up, the big­ger dif­fer­ence these two awe­some or­gan­i­sa­tions can make in the lives of deaf and hearingim­paired Kiwi kids.

‘‘We’re grate­ful for ev­ery bit of sup­port that en­ables us to help par­ents give their child the gift of sound and the spo­ken word,’’ she says.

Loud Shirt Day has a beach theme this year. Visit loud­shirt­day.org.nz for more in­for­ma­tion and reg­is­ter to hold a fundrais­ing event.

LIU CHEN / STUFF

Owen Jia and his mum Jen­nifer. The Hear­ing House helps him en­joy sounds and the spo­ken word.

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