Fall Fun for Kids with Hearing Loss
October 10, 2015
It’s not every day a child gets to ride a train, visit a haunted barn, or brave a ghost town tricycle trail. But once a year, Roca Berry Farm, located just outside Lincoln, Nebraska, helps make these sometimes creepy and always magical experiences available to children with hearing loss. This year, that day came on Sept. 20.
The annual event, known as the Family Fall Harvest Event, is sponsored by two Sertoma clubs – the University Sertoma Club and the CI Sertoma Club – as well as the Southeast Nebraska Regional Program for Students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. Additionally, volunteers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln chapter of the National Student Speech Language and Hearing Association, also known as NSSLHA, eagerly help out. Held in the farm’s massive pumpkin patch, attendees can visit with animals, take in dozens of rides, sit by a campfire, or just enjoy the cool fall weather.
Though the farm offers family activities throughout the fall, the Family Fall Harvest Event is special for several reasons. First, it gives the children a chance to meet other children with hearing loss and play with them in a fun, supportive environment.
Second, the event creates a space for families to connect and offer support to one another. These acts of support might be social, such as sitting at one of the many picnic tables together, or strategic, such as sharing tips for how to keep a child’s cochlear implant or hearing aid on.
“Many of our families from rural areas may never have met another child who is deaf before or an adult who is deaf,” says Jill Bird, event coordinator and member of the CI Sertoma Club. “For many, it’s their first experience being around other families with children who have hearing loss.”
Third, the event gives the children a way to connect with caring, successful adults who have hearing loss. Bird says there are members of both the University Sertoma Club and the CI Sertoma Club who have hearing loss. These members play a special role by being an inspiration for the kids and their families.
Two hundred-twenty people of all ages – including more than 50 elementary students with hearing loss – attended this year. Between the train rides and pig races, Sertoma members took advantage of the chance to interact with kids and families affected by hearing loss.
Aside from the rides and merriment, what the event comes down to in the end is the power of togetherness. “There’s nothing more powerful than somebody who walks the same walk and has the same experiences as you,” Bird says. “Seeing these families is one way to promote that acceptance of your own child’s hearing loss and to see how at the end of the road that these will be happy, successful accomplished adults.”
Image Credit: Jennifer Schultz of Jennifer Schultz Photography