So many emotions went through me as I entered the Royal Conservatory of Music for my first class. I may have been fifty-seven years old but I felt twelve!
Have you ever pursued a long-awaited dream? Something that, for one reason or another, kept being pushed back until one day you just went for it?
I have. I was fifty-seven, and very close to retirement from my demanding job as a bank executive. My children were adults and had finished university. Finally, the time had come when I could pursue a dream that I had dreamt of my entire life. It was time to learn to play the piano.
Soon after I started playing, I discovered I could only hear from one ear. It was crushing. I didn’t realize that I had only been hearing half of the world around me. My first thought was that I might need to stop playing piano.
Imagine how devastating it is to learn that you may no longer be able to pursue your dream. This was my first hint at mortality. I felt old for the first time.
I became determined that my hearing loss would not impact my mental health. I learned everything I could. I sought treatment immediately. Hearing health became my priority. The Hearing Foundation of Canada became my passion. I hope you share my passion, and will consider supporting THFC.
My thought was of my mother and my grandmother. You see, when they started to lose their hearing, they also suffered dementia. Communication became too difficult and they lost interest in the world around them. As a result, their mental health swiftly declined and their world became very small. I chose to act differently.
Once I started playing I couldn’t stop. Music had changed for me forever. I loved it deeply and passionately, and practiced for hours a day. I now play at a grade nine level and to be honest, I get lost in making music.
Do you know that hearing loss is treatable and preventable? My life was not going to shrink the way my mother’s and grandmother’s had. I had a lot of living to do and a lot of music to play.
The World Health Organization estimates that 1.1 billion children and youth are at risk of developing noise-induced hearing loss — which is completely preventable!
And only 12% of seniors who suffer hearing loss seek treatment for it. This is unacceptable.
Hearing health is taken for granted and is grossly misunderstood. Together we must change that. Your donation can help:
- Create a change in behaviour among young people so they protect their hearing.
- Do more catalytic research to find better, more effective, and more affordable treatments.
- Work with the government to reduce the stigma around hearing loss.
The Hearing Foundation of Canada is the only national charity closing the gap in these areas.
Every Canadian citizen should be able to hear music, songbirds, or their child saying “I love you” for the very first time.
Our focus this year is to look at new partnerships with organizations who share our vision of better hearing health in Canada. Working with dementia organizations as well as local symphonies will help to eliminate the devastating — and preventable — effects of hearing loss.
Please support this critical work. Your gift will raise the bar for hearing health in Canada.
The day my bone-anchored hearing aid was installed I remember life instantly got richer. I was able to complete my grade nine exam, hear waterfalls I didn’t know were there and greatly reduce communication issues with my family. It was a very emotional time. I still get overwhelmed when I think about it.
You can help other Canadians have the same experience. Your continued investment has never been more important. Thank you for considering this request.
Yours for hearing health,
Chair of the Board, The Hearing Foundation of Canada
P.S. Join me in my passion to advance treatment and awareness of hearing health. Your donation today will help make hearing health in Canada a priority.
When my son Brendan was born, I thought he was perfect. Even after the nurses told me that he had partial hearing loss. To me, he was perfect.
It wasn’t long before my euphoria quickly changed to frustration. Not with Brendan of course, but with the stigma that we instantly confronted.
In March 2004, newborn screening for hearing health was brand new. In fact, Brendan was the first baby in that hospital to have a positive result from the test. Right away the nurses started looking for a cause and I was put on the defensive. Did I smoke during pregnancy and what else might have done to cause his hearing loss? I didn’t do anything. Brendan’s hearing loss is hereditary.
My son is a healthy, active, determined boy who is extremely smart. He also happens to wear hearing aids. As a family, we continue to confront the stigma associated with hearing loss on a daily basis.
The world can be a cruel place if you are a young child wearing hearing aids. We have a lot of work to do to change that. That is why I want to thank you for your interest in The Hearing Foundation of Canada (THFC) and ask you to join me and donate today. By donating to THFC, we are all taking an active role in moving toward a day when hearing aids will be as matter a fact as reading glasses. For our family, that can’t happen soon enough.
Brendan’s hearing loss was detected before we left the hospital and he started being treated differently right then and there. Like he was broken. My son is not broken. In fact, Brendan is pretty amazing. But as the years pass, the lack of understanding has continued.
Brendan started wearing hearing aids at a very young age. At that time total strangers would come up to me and ask me questions like: “Does your son have a hearing problem?” “Is it just his hearing or does he have other mental issues?” “Are you comfortable with people seeing his hearing aids?” These comments made me feel angry. Although, perhaps never as angry as I was one day a few years ago.
It was a winter day in Montreal and Brendan and some friends were playing soccer outside. Brendan was told by a supply yard duty teacher that he couldn’t play soccer because he was disabled. That night when he came home he, asked me what “disabled” meant. I told him it meant that he was unable to perform certain tasks due to illness or injury. He was genuinely curious about why the teacher thought his legs didn’t work.
I then had to tell him it wasn’t because of his legs;
it was because of his hearing.
Brendan is an active, energetic boy, who also wears hearing aids. He can play soccer and hockey and even ride his bike 100km to raise money for THFC!
Brendan is determined to do whatever he can to help other kids like him feel more “normal”. Once while shopping he noticed another boy wearing hearing aids. Brendan walked right up to this boy showed him that they had something in common. The boys had a good chat. When Brendan came back, I asked him why he did that. His response: “Because, I wish someone had done that with me.”
Please join my son and show the world that hearing loss is manageable, preventable and worthy of research and discussion.
As I celebrate my amazing children this Mother’s Day I will reflect on all of the incredible abilities that my son has. Brendan’s attitude is contagious. Because of him, I am motivated to do more for hearing health. THFC is motivated to do more and now we are asking you to join us. Can you do more?
When you support THFC, you are part of something big. You are part of a national movement to eliminate the stigma associated with hearing loss. You help to ensure that more kids like Brendon are noticed for their abilities, not their “disabilities”.
Yours for better hearing health,
P.S. Please consider donating today so that we can all do more to eliminate the stigma associated with hearing loss.
When you notice a group of excited children, all eager to start winter break, do you smile at the joyful anticipation in their young voices?
Can you hear them?
My heart broke recently as my friend Jim was telling me how hard he works at hearing his son Daniel. You see, twenty five years ago, when Jim was as a teenager, he worked in a canning factory.
Like a lot of teenagers, Jim didn’t bother with hearing protection, because he didn’t realize the risk and the ear plugs on that plastic string didn’t look “cool”. Of course Jim couldn’t have known then that many years later, his non-verbal autistic son Daniel would struggle to communicate with him. Daniel speaks so rarely that for Jim, each of those moments are precious.
“I have so much embarrassment and guilt that I
can’t hear him. If I’d have known then how important my hearing would be …If could turn back time, I’d have worn the ear plugs…but I can’t. I just didn’t know. Daniel’s voice is so soft and it takes such
an extraordinary effort on his part to communicate.
I don’t want to miss a single syllable ever.
But I do all the time.”
– Jim Martin
There is still so much to be done. Right now, over 60% of teens surveyed said that they had experienced temporary hearing loss while attending concerts and 16% of them have never had any education about hearing health. Your donation can help change that. Many forms of hearing loss are avoidable and education initiatives like our Sound Sense program need to be scaled up. There are still too many people like Jim. And for so many, their hearing loss was preventable.
When Jim was in school, there wasn’t a program like Sound Sense, which warns kids about exactly the hearing loss he wound up with. A program that is made possible by your gifts, and which needs your support this holiday season to continue to share its incredibly important message about hearing health.
Please consider a donation to hearing health this holiday season. Your gift will let us offer Sound Sense to more children across Canada and to continue to raise awareness for hearing health.