Helping out loud
Two-year-old Lukas Wai is a chatty, intelligent and happy boy who loves to sing.
The Meadowbank toddler was born with high frequency hearing loss which means he has difficulty picking up sounds at lower volumes.
Lukas is one of almost 200 Auckland children and their families who will benefit from money raised through Loud Shirt Day today.
The annual appeal is for The Hearing House based in Greenlane and the Southern Cochlear Implant Paediatric Programme in Christchurch.
Both charities are dedicated to enabling deaf children with implants or hearing aids to listen and speak through free therapy programmes.
Lukas' mum Maureen says her son's hearing loss came as a shock.
"We found out about it through the newborn hearing screening programme.
"We had no idea anything was wrong because he was responding when someone would call out, he jumped at loud noises like if a door would slam."
He has tiny hearing aids which get replaced as he grows.
Mrs Wai says Lukas' talking would be affected if he didn't attend regular speech therapy sessions.
"It's really for his learning to teach him to speak and listen, and to help me learn how to teach Lukas at home."
Lukas is the second of Mr and Mrs Wai's three children.
"Lukas is quite a talkative little boy. He's happy and quite mischievous and he loves to sing. Jingle Bells is one of his favourite songs and that's only marginally better than Happy Birthday which is another of his favourites.
"There's no real difference in his learning and development as the rest of the children and that's because of the support we've received from The Hearing House. It's been really important to his development. Lukas is progressing really well," she says.
The Hearing House was set up in 1998 by hearing and cochlear implant specialists who saw the need for therapy for children with hearing impairments.
Fundraising manager Mary Jane Boland says there are 50 children with hearing aids who attend the organisation's intensive learning programmes.
Another 140 children use the organisation's hearing services up to the age of 19.
"The aim was to provide these therapies so that children with hearing aids and cochlear implants could participate fully in mainstream society.
"They could go to mainstream schools, answer the telephone and speak to people as any hearing person would.
"We don't get any government funding and we have a small number of hearing aid children each year who use our services and that's why Loud Shirt Day is so important so we can continue to help children like Lukas and provide them with free services." she says.
Go to hearinghouse.co.nz for more information.
MAKE A DONATION Around 1900 schools and businesses are celebrating Loud Shirt Day today. They're wearing their loudest shirts to help raise money and awareness for the deaf and hearing impaired. To donate go to loudshirtday.co.nz or text LOUD to 5339 to make a $3 donation.
East And Bays Courier