KIT Days important for bringing together children with hearing loss video

MYTCHALL BRANSGROVE/FAIRFAX NZ

Van Asch Deaf Education Centre representative Kay Luff interprets centre specialist New Zealand sign language resource teacher Nirvana Graham at the KIT Day at Oceanview Heights School on Tuesday.

South Canterbury children with hearing loss were given the chance to meet other kids just like them during a special event in Timaru.

A Keep In Touch (KIT) Day for children across the region was held at Oceanview Heights School on Tuesday.

Green MP and Rangitata candidate Mojo Mathers, who is New Zealand's first deaf member of Parliament, also attended the biannual event.

Green MP and Rangitata candidate Mojo Mathers signing with some children at a KIT Day held at Oceanview Heights School ...
MYTCHALL BRANSGROVE/FAIRFAX NZ

Green MP and Rangitata candidate Mojo Mathers signing with some children at a KIT Day held at Oceanview Heights School on Tuesday.

The day was organised by the Christchurch-based van Asch Deaf Education Centre.

Teachers from the centre travelled to work with hearing impaired children in Timaru, and there were teachers for the centre based in Timaru as well.

Timaru mum Sarah Valentine attended with her children Jaxon and Noah.

"They both wear bilateral cochlear implants," Valentine said.

KIT Days were important for her children because it gave them the chance to "interact with other children like them", she said.

It also gave parents a chance to connect with each other, as well as the adults who worked with their children in classroom situations, she said.

Timaru-based van Asch Deaf Education Centre resource teacher of deaf Ali Winter said KIT Days brought the children together for a mixture of fun social activities and lessons about different hearing losses.

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"The children really enjoy getting together, they remember each other."

The eight children at the KIT Day were from Ashburton, Geraldine and Timaru, and ranged between three and 15 years of age.

"It's great for the parents to get together, often I think parents feel isolated," Winter said.

Mathers said her love of babies had her aspiring to be a midwife when she was young, however, she was told she couldn't do that because she was deaf.

Deaf people didn't need to be "put in a box" or excluded from various occupations, she said.

There was a saying 'deaf can do anything', and it was "absolutely true", Mathers said.

As New Zealand's first deaf MP, she was often invited to attend events for deaf students.

"It's about really being there to say 'yes you can'."

Deaf children could feel isolated from mainstream culture "especially as they get older", she said.

It was important for people to ensure someone with hearing loss was included in conversations, she said.

 - Stuff

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