Bright, wacky T-shirts will be on full display in the Stickland household next week in support of their little boy Freddie and Loud Shirt Day.
When 8-month old Freddie was born, he was diagnosed with profound hearing loss and just three months ago he was fitted with bilateral cochlear implants.
After being blindsided by the diagnosis, Freddie’s parents, Mark and Amanda, say watching him giggle as he heard sound for the first time was an incredible experience.
“[Cochlear implants] are not a cure for deafness but they allow him access to sound, and because of them he will learn to talk just like his hearing peers, something that never would have been possible 40 years ago” says Amanda.
While Freddie has a long road ahead of him with habilitation sessions to assist with achieving developmental skills, thanks to the Hearing House and the cochlear implants Freddie will live a “happy, normal, extraordinary life,” she says.
They say the team at The Hearing House have quickly become like family, and they are blown away with the support and kindness they offer every family they work with.
“When Freddie got switched on, which is what they call it when they turn on the implants, they had a switch on party for us. For them it’s another kid they have helped and they celebrate that,” says Mark.
Cochlear implants in New Zealand are government funded but The Hearing House relies heavily on donations to be able to offer deaf children and their families a range of free audiology services and therapy.
The couple wants everyone to take part in Loud Shirt Day by dressing up in their brightest shirt to support and celebrate giving deaf kids a voice.
“Deaf kids can hear with support and this is a real success story where the government in years gone by have made decisions that have really set up a good infrastructure to support kids like Fred,” Mark says.
“But the Hearing House still needs public donations to be able to offer families the level of support that they do.”
- Loud Shirt Day is on Friday, September 29 and is the annual appeal for The Hearing House and the Southern Cochlear Implant Programme. You can register for Loud Shirt Day at www.loudshirtday.org.nz.