HELP is at hand for Newtownabbey families who are struggling to cope with a child with hearing loss.
Local mum-of-three Abbie McKenna found out her youngest child Katie had a moderate hearing loss at 12 days old through the NHS Newborn Hearing Screening Programme.
“Like most families dealing with a child with hearing loss we had no experience of deafness and no idea what it meant for Katie or for the wider family,” Abbie explained. “Thankfully, we got in touch with The National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) and through them met other families in our local area with deaf children. With encouragement from The NDCS, myself along with some other parents decided to form a Local Deaf Children’s Society which we call The Hearing Hub.
“The Hearing Hub was founded in July 2012, and covers a wide geographical area including Newtownabbey, North Belfast, Carrickfergus, Ballyclare and Larne. There are currently ten families, with more than 25 children, half of whom have some level of hearing loss involved in the group. Our main aims are to bring deaf children, their hearing siblings, parents and family together to enjoy fun stuff, learn new things, and share our experiences with each other. As most deaf children (90 per cent) are educated in mainstream schools we hope The Hub will enable our children to establish friendships with other local deaf children so they don’t grow up feeling isolated or different from their peers.
“One of the main things I get as a parent from The Hub is the support and experience of parents with older deaf children. Katie’s hearing has deteriorated since birth and she is now profoundly deaf, discussing this with other parents helps me remain positive about her future.”
The Hearing Hub, which is open to any families with deaf children, is having a Family Fun Day launch event on Saturday, January 26 from 1pm - 4pm at Jennymount Methodist Church, York Road, Belfast.
“Come along and enjoy a day out and meet other local parents. We have sign2music, baby sensory, Ecomantella, a magician, face painting, balloon modelling, food and refreshments and its all free,” Abbie added.
For more information search for Newtownabbey Hearing Hub on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org