It was the exhausting of times, it was the best of times!

Hey readers, apologies for the delay since my last blog, the last week away from my writings have been spent rushing about at a summer school.

In my first post I explained about my deafness and how I try and approach life to be positive about it, but I haven’t gone into another aspect of my life which really made a positive change and completed my transition from someone with very few friends at college to having a whole new family!

At the age of 15/16 I was introduced to a charity which works with deaf children at a summer school who come along with parents to learn about taking the natural aural approach in life. This approach is all about engaging with deaf children, encouraging the use of hearing aids (and cochlear implants and other devices now available since I was born!) and for them to really listen with the help of the devices and communicate through talking. There were other deaf helpers on the week I was there and while the parents of the deaf children attended workshops from the volunteer teacher of the deaf, we all went out on trips. And I loved it! This for me was a whole new world, one in which I was no longer the only deaf person, and one which I could moan about issues I faced as a deaf person without feeling guilty about it! And being out and about with deaf children was an eye opener, as I never thought I was a kid person. But I actually realised I had a natural rapport with them, probably because I’ve always been a big kid myself! But there was something else too, it was recognising myself in their faces, that understanding in their eyes that they had something different about them, some of them not keen on having to wear hearing aids but by the end of the week, being proud and not wanting to leave because they had made friends with all the other children and us helpers. All of us helpers were assigned to an individual child to be responsible for, and I admit to my heart bursting with pride when mine came over to give me a hug and saying thank you. All of the parents were so overjoyed at the end of the week seeing the transition in their children, going away with renewed hope for the future, that I’m not afraid to say there were some tears in the eyes!

Everyone talks about moments that changed their lives, this summer school was mine. Everything about it suddenly gave me purpose again; from having proper friends, being with other deaf people, working with deaf children and watching the change in parents faces over the week to that of happiness, I knew instantly that I wanted to do it again and again.

Sure enough I did, apart from a few years enforced break due to university commitments, my arrival home yesterday was my 17th year on summer schools (20 years in total with the charity in other roles!)

On reflection, I’m still amazed at how many years I’ve now been involved, and a feeling of pride too, having risen up the ranks so to speak as a helper, to an experienced young deaf adult helper, to one of the Trip Leaders for the groups that go on visits, to becoming a Trustee of the Charity, to Vice Chair, and then the ultimate accolade, being nominated as Chair by members of the charity and one which I accepted with pride.

This role comes with a lot of responsibilities, one of them being the culmination of this year’s summer school, a week of intense pressue and stress behind the scenes to ensure that the parents and children got everything and more out of their short time with us. I don’t think I have ever walked so much in a week, or made as much cups of coffee and tea, being the go between between the teacher and the volunteers trying to ensure they all had what they needed. I was so tired on getting home last night that I didn’t end up waking up till 2.30pm today!

But you know what? It was worth it in the end, all of the volunteers who’s help I’m eternally grateful for have been telling me how much they enjoyed it, all the parent’s I spoke to yesterday  were telling me how they wanted to come back next year, and having hope for their own children, that once again, summer school 2016 as with the previous ones,was the best of times!

Till next time readers

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