Girl of the Year™ 2020 Joss Kendrick™ doesn’t let hearing loss stand in the way of being the best surfer and cheerleader she can be. We sat down with Barbara Kelley, executive director of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) to talk about why Joss’s story is so important to girls, with and without hearing loss.
HLAA’s mission is to open the world of communication for people with hearing loss through information, education, support, and advocacy. With more than 48 million Americans living with hearing loss, HLAA works nationally and in local communities to provide vital assistance and resources to help people with hearing loss live life fully.
What are your favorite aspects of Joss’s books? What makes her story important?
Joss is ambitious and sets her goals. She is also considerate of others, and learns the value of teamwork and not giving up. This positive message is important to all young people.
We love reading how Joss’s determination to excel at surfing leads her unexpectedly to cheer. Joss has a misconception of cheering that changes completely when she experiences the teamwork and athleticism of the sport.
Joss’s books help to highlight the importance of community for people with hearing loss. The support of family and community is incredibly important to children with hearing loss. For Joss, her cheer teammates and coaches are vital to her ability to hear well and excel as a part of a team.
What do you hope girls take away from Joss’s story?
Joss's story transcends hearing loss. Joss has the courage to try new things and follow her passions. Joss is like many girls; she just happens to have a hearing loss. The message is positive—girls can do anything they dream, but that comes with hard work and commitment.
My daughter has hearing loss. How can HLAA help us?
HLAA provides reliable, timely, and unbiased information about hearing loss, its treatments, and how to live well with it. The message is: we are people first—who happen to have hearing loss. HLAA’s message is to learn all you can about hearing loss and options for treatment, then make an individual choice. HLAA holds the Walk4Hearing in 20 cities across the U.S. in the spring and fall. Many families get involved and form teams. When children form teams and get the support of families, friends, and teachers, their confidence grows and awareness about hearing health grows. We have seen many individual stories about kids with hearing loss growing up through the Walk4Hearing, now in its 15th year. The message is: You are not alone with your hearing loss, and there is something you can do about it. On Walk day, kids get to be with other kids who have hearing loss, and parents support each other with shared experiences.
How can I help my daughter be a good friend to someone with hearing loss?
Your daughter can ask a few questions; for example, how can I best talk to you so you understand me? Good communication strategies like not shouting, speaking clearly, and facing her friend when speaking often help. When in a group of friends, make sure everyone is not talking at once. Be mindful of how her friend needs to hear and support her especially with her other friends. Your daughter might also ask about her friend's hearing aid, cochlear implant or other technology she uses to hear. Ask her what happens when she is not using her hearing aid or cochlear implant. Above all, your daughter can remember that her friend is a girl just like her, who happens to have a hearing loss and might need some help.
I want to support HLAA. What’s the best way to do that?
There are many ways to support HLAA and, by doing that, help yourself or others, and learn about prevention of hearing loss, diagnosis, and treatment. Here is a list of a few things to do: Subscribe to the free online Hearing Life e-News published twice a month.
Become a member of HLAA and receive the bimonthly magazine, Hearing Life, full of reliable information as well as personal stories of individuals living well with hearing loss. Get involved in the HLAA Walk4Hearing—fun events held in 20 cities across the U.S. bring people together to create awareness and much more. Be a volunteer on Walk day or form a team. Find out about a local HLAA Chapter or the annual HLAA Convention with workshops, educational programs, and fun events. Become a supporter by donating to HLAA. Your donation supports programs and advocacy efforts at the national level that impact 48 million people in the U.S. with hearing loss.
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