Did you know deafness is the most common disability in the western world with one in every 1000 Australian babies born deaf? And 50 per cent of children with hearing loss do not have access to support services? The Shepherd Centre helps hundreds of families who need support and advice on dealing with their child’s hearing loss. Their ‘Loud Shirt Day’ initiative raises absolutely crucial funds to make early intervention programs possible, and they need YOU to join in!
Sydney mum, Renata has two boys living with hearing loss, 2-year-old Gabriel and 4-year-old Rafael. When Rafael was just three weeks old, she was given the devastating news that her baby had permanent hearing loss. Two years later, little Gabriel was diagnosed with the same condition.
It’s hard to imagine how difficult this must have been, but Renata says that connecting with The Shepherd Centre changed everything for her family.
“From the moment we walked into The Shepherd Centre, everything turned around. They taught us how to best help our boys progress and develop,” she explains.
Around 90 per cent of kids who graduate from The Shepherd Centre’s early intervention program enter mainstream schools with speech and hearing skills that are equal to or even better than those of their hearing peers.
Renata’s boys have most certainly reaped the rewards of being connected to this great organisation. Their speech has progressed in leaps and bounds, with Rafael now speaking both fluent Portuguese and English. Gabriel continues to show significant improvements with his speech and language development.
A diagnosis that sent their world crashing down around them has proven to not be the life sentence this family originally thought and it’s all thanks to the hard work of The Shepherd Centre folk.
“They have come so far thanks to The Shepherd Centre – we couldn’t have done it without their unwavering support.” Renata explains.
Sydney mum, Renata and her two boys, Rafael and Gabriel Image: supplied
Clare and Anthony Steve’s baby son Oliver was diagnosed with profound deafness in one ear and severe deafness in the other when he was just a week or so old. They connected with The Shepherd Centre’s early intervention program and have not looked back.
“Ollie has made leaps and bounds and is showing incredible comprehension skills,” Clare told The Canberra Times.
“He is on par with other 2-year-olds with his talking skills, and they will prepare him to go to a normal school.”
Sydney mum, Bethany Bloomfield says the centre has made a ‘life-changing’ difference to her daughter Taylah’s life.
“We were referred to the Shepherd Centre five years ago and have been doing weekly therapy ever since,” Bethany told The Daily Telegraph.
“It’s really life changing; Taylah went from being able to say nothing, to being able to have a conversation and constantly talking. We think the fact that she’s now ready and able to go to school is amazing.”
Loud Shirt Day’s important work
This support doesn’t come cheaply. It costs more than $18,000 per year, per child to provide the kind of critical early intervention services The Shepherd Centre provides to turn these kids’ lives around. Just over half the funding for their programs comes from public donations, so events like Loud Shirt Day are crucial for the little ears they support. The Shepherd Centre CEO, Jim Hungerford encourages everyone to join in and spread the word.
“Grab your brightest and silliest shirts, socks, dresses, even hats and help us give the gift of sound to kids who need it. Hosting a Loud Shirt Day event is a fun, simple way to help raise funds to ensure every deaf child is able to achieve his or her full potential,” Jim says.
Visit Loud Shirt Day, where you can register and/or download a free Loud Shirt Day Host Kit.