So, I mentor deaf kids between the ages of 12 and 18. We’ve been doing this for about a year, me and 5 other deaf friends. We started it because we had always wished that we had a deaf role model when we were growing up – or atleast someone to talk to when the going got tough, or to ask for advice as to how to deal with things when you have a hearing loss. There weren’t really many around for us.
We all do it as volunteers, we conduct workshops on weekends, and talk to our mentees by email – and I have to say it is one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever done. We call ourselves ‘Hear For You’.
So, on the morning after my surgery, I am sitting up in my hospital bed, checking my sms’s and emails.
And in pops an email from one of my mentees. I mentor the year 11 and 12s, and they are such a wonderful group of kids. I really love them. And I can see myself reflected in them so clearly – everything that I went through in highschool – I always just want them to know that they are not alone, and can do anything they want. We are always on about how deafness is not a disabilty, but a difference, and that they can be leaders, and have brilliant careers etc etc.
So, anyway – this email comes in … and it says something like: “HI Kate, just wanted to let you know … I got elected to be a prefect at my school yesterday.”
I was completely floored.
Had a huge smile on my face.
Didn’t know what to say.
Well actually, I did know what to say! I was hooting and cheering, and if I’d been hooked up to a heart monitor, alarms would’ve been going off.
He is profoundly deaf, and has been elected prefect at a normal mainstream school.
His parent’s had mentioned that he had decided to go for the position of prefect at his school after coming to our workshops (we hold four every 6 months), but I don’t think I realised he was really going to do it.
The grin got bigger, and I thought – this is what it’s all about. This … giving the kids enough confidence to know … they literally can do ANYTHING. It was a small sign – well, a big sign – that what we are doing is making a difference, is helping these kids feel more confident about themselves, and pushing them to challenge themselves.
So, congratulations Adrian! You are my hero, and I am very proud of you. Just remember this is step one of the journey. Keep going til you hit CEO, just like we talked about! And remember it doesn’t end there!