Since the mid-2000s, children with hearing loss on the Sunshine Coast have been empowered to reach their full learning potential with the support of local charity, Hear and Say.
Just last week the Hear and Say Centre in Nambour received a visit from the local Freemasons, who met with families and staff to hear how a state-wide grant for half-a-million-dollars from Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland is making a difference on the ground.
The grant, handed over earlier this year, will help to cover the funding gap to deliver critical early intervention services, ensuring continuity of support for deaf children throughout Queensland for the next year – till the full financial impact of the National Disability Insurance Scheme is known in late 2018.
Sunshine Coast Freemason Mike Aldrich who was present at the special morning tea said nothing compares to hearing directly from the families that have benefited.
“It was incredibly special for us to have been able to meet with these local families and to see the centre in action, Mr Aldrich said.
“We sat in on a group social skills playgroup and toured the facility as well, which gave us a glimpse into the innovative work being done to empower these young children to lead a normal life, with the ability to hear, listen and speak, better than their typically hearing peers in most cases,” Mr Aldrich said.
“The visit put things into perspective for us, to see the difference this funding is making at a grassroots level. We’re only too proud that children on the Sunshine Coast and throughout the state are benefiting from this grant which was made on behalf of the Freemasons of Queensland,” he said.
Collectively, the grant will mean that 200 children across the state will continue to have access to Hear and Say’s Audiology Services, and 300 children can take part in the Early Intervention Program at Hear and Say’s Centres on the Sunshine and Gold Coasts, Brisbane, Townsville and Toowoomba.
Hear and Say Chief Executive Officer Chris McCarthy stressed how important essential listening and spoken language therapy is to a child’s development.
“It can take up to six years to teach a profoundly deaf child to listen, process language, and speak, using the latest technology and an Auditory-Verbal Therapy approach, so it’s vital that our services remain accessible – for children to be ready for mainstream schooling,” Mr McCarthy said.
“We are extremely grateful for this funding from Hand Heart Pocket. Without this, Queensland children could miss out on vital services and programs that build their potential.”
“We also thank the local Freemasons for their show of support for our local Hear and Say, families. It truly means a lot to them to know the local Freemasons are supportive of the grant.”
Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said providing sustainable support to charitable initiatives that have limited access to other funding sources was the organisation’s focus.
“Our values are centred around empowering people to lead better lives,” Mr Mark said.
“Support for education initiatives for children with a disability aligns with Hand Heart Pocket’s long-term strategy, and we are delighted that this partnership is enabling more children on the Sunshine Coast and throughout Queensland to have a future which will not be limited by their hearing loss.”
Photo: The Sunshine Coast Freemasons recently visited the local Hear and Say Centre to meet with families impacted by Hand Heart Pocket’s half-a-million-dollar state-wide grant.