Aided by a $30,000 grant, Hearts for Hearing will offer a camp June 22 to 26 for children with hearing loss who are learning to listen and talk.
Hearts for Hearing was awarded the Opportunities for Children iFund grant by the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. This grant goes to charitable organizations that provide direct services to children and offer opportunities otherwise not available.
“Receiving this grant allows us to include children with hearing loss from rural communities who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford camp and who likely have never visited many of the downtown sites,” said Lindsay Hanna, Summer Camp Director.
The camp, Meet Me Underneath the Oklahoma Sky, is a week-long enrichment experience for school-age children with hearing loss. It helps them continue to develop their auditory, speech, language, social and cognitive skills during the summer and connect with peers.
“The families love meeting other families who have been on the journey of learning to listen with hearing aids or cochlear implants,” said Joanna Smith, CEO. “The kids make new friendships with other children who live across the state and look forward to seeing them year after year.”
Children from throughout Oklahoma will learn about visual, performing and literary arts. They will participate in cultural and fitness activities while interacting with peers at multiple community venues, including the Oklahoma City Museum of Art and the Oklahoma Hall of Fame at the Gaylord-Pickens Museum.
Many of the children who receive services from Hearts for Hearing come from across the state and attend their local public schools. In many cases, they are the only child in their classroom or school with hearing loss. The camp facilitates peer support and celebrates their abilities to listen and talk.
“I love seeing the kids connect with each other,” said Smith. “You can see the younger kids watching the older ones. A mother from Tulsa is so excited for her son to be able to have some buds.”
Five of the 17 volunteers are college students who previously attended as campers. Two teenaged counselors-in-training also attended as campers. Hearts for Hearing expects 60 students this summer.
Community partners for this program include SandRidge Energy, Skyline Church, Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Lyric Theatre, Oklahoma City Thunder Rolling Book Bus, Oklahoma Hall of Fame at the Gaylord-Pickens Museum, Oklahoma City Community Foundation, and BancFirst.
Hearts for Hearing was established in 2003 to provide funding for the initial set of hearing aids for children with hearing loss in Oklahoma. In 2007, the mission was expanded to become a comprehensive hearing health program for both children and adults, offering auditory-verbal therapy. In 2013, to meet the growing demand for adult hearing healthcare, the mission expanded again to open a clinic specifically designed for adults.
Founded in 1969, the Oklahoma City Community Foundation works with donors and organizations to create endowments that address needs and opportunities within the community. iFund Opportunities for Children grant program represents a compilation of contributions from donors who want to support grants to provide basic and preventive health care including mental and dental care to individuals in need. For more information on the iFund grant program, visit www.ifundokc.org. For more information on the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, visit www.occf.org.