Since the late 1990s, children with hearing loss on the Gold Coast have been empowered to reach their full learning potential with the support of local charity, Hear and Say.
Joining Loud Shirt Day celebrations at the Hear and Say Centre in Varsity Lakes just recently, was local Freemason Dave Henry, who met with families 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.
Gold Coast Freemason Dave Henry who dressed for the occasion said he now has a greater appreciation for what it takes to ensure a child with hearing loss can hear, listen, and speak.
“As well spending time with local families to hear how the statewide grant has impacted them, I sat in on a Listen Little Stars baby playgroup and toured the facility,” Dave said.
“It’s only when you see with your own eyes, that you begin to understand just how lifechanging this statewide grant is. For children with hearing loss in our own community and throughout Queensland, to be empowered to be anything they want to be when they grow up, is something we’re proud to be involved with,” 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 Gold and Sunshine Coasts, in Townsville, Brisbane 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 Gold Coast and throughout Queensland to have a future which will not be limited by their hearing loss.”
Photo: Gold Coast Freemason Dave Henry (second from left) dropped by the local Hear and Say Centre in Varsity Lakes to hear how Hand Heart Pocket’s half-a-million-dollar state-wide grant is impacting local children.