Helping children to reach their full potential.

Meet Our Ambassadors

Hear and Say: Here to Stay

Kate and Andrew de Koning

Parents Kate and Andrew know first-hand what it’s like to have a child diagnosed with hearing loss. Their son, Harry – a little brother to their older daughter, Stella – was born last year into a world without clear sound.

Harry’s diagnosis came as a huge surprise for the young couple who, with no family history of hearing loss, had thought of his hospital newborn hearing screening as just another “routine check”.

“When we found out our son had severe hearing loss, it came as a very big shock for our family. My biggest concern was the unknown. We just wanted him to be in the best position and to give him the strongest opportunity to move forward, learn and live life,” said Kate.

Kate and Andrew haven’t looked back since they first walked through the doors of the Hear and Say Sunshine Coast Centre, seeking the vital support they needed to ensure Harry would be able to grow up learning to hear, listen and speak – and now with the use of two cochlear implants, which were switched onto sound at Hear and Say in March.

“The work Hear and Say does for families around Queensland is just amazing, and we are proud to be ambassadors for the Here and Say: Here to Stay Giving Day as one of the hundreds of families who directly benefits from Hear and Say donors’ generous support.”

Darcy Worland

“If I was to lose the ability to hear and speak, it would be like losing all the colour in the world. I’d be losing so much of the depth and conversations I have, and the ability to talk and able to share opinions and ideas.”

Darcy was one of the early “Hear and Say babies”, with cochlear implants from a young age. Now 21, Darcy is currently working on a property and preparing to commence studies in graphic design. He is living proof of the importance of early intervention to ensure optimal outcomes for children born deaf today.

“Hear and Say has had a massive butterfly effect on my life. I wouldn’t have had the friends I have now, I wouldn’t have worked in all the jobs I’ve had, or gone to the school I went to, or have the beautiful relationships with my family that I do, if I hadn’t had my cochlear implants from a young age.”

Darcy can still remember the Hear and Say team who taught him to hear and speak all those years ago, and still feels a special sense of community.

“As an ambassador for the Here to Stay: Here to Stay Giving Day, I am encouraging everyone to get behind this campaign – every dollar will make a difference to more people like me, as they learn to hear, listen and speak.”

Damian Cavanagh

“I have had the privilege of witnessing first-hand the amazing work Hear and Say does for young Queenslanders with hearing loss, and the wonderful support they have provided our family personally on my son’s hearing journey.”

Damian is father to five-year-old, Archie who has two cochlear implants having been diagnosed with profound deafness at birth. Damian, his wife Anissa and older son, Hudson have been behind Archie every step of the way as he has learnt to hear, listen and speak, and now as he continues to make incredible strides at school.

Damian’s support of Hear and Say has even previously seen him take a true leap of faith to swing from Brisbane’s iconic Goodwill Bridge, raising critical funds and awareness for Hear and Say. Now, he proudly wears the title of ambassador for the Hear and Say: Here to Stay Giving Day.

“I am thrilled to support Hear and Say and assist them with their mission to give local kids with hearing loss like Archie the opportunity to learn to listen and speak, and be granted the same opportunities in life as their abled hearing peers.”

Jillian Ash

“The early intervention I received at Hear and Say has provided me with the freedom to be independent and resilient and in turn to pursue opportunities, such as completing a doctorate.”

Jillian was born with moderate to severe hearing loss, which deteriorated to a profound loss during her early primary school years, rendering her hearing aids ineffective. Jillian received her first cochlear implant at age nine, and opted for a second implant 12 years later.

Now age 31, Jillian graduated from The University of Queensland in mid-2018 with a Doctorate in Sociology and International Development.

“Without the scaffolding of Hear and Say supporting my life journey, I certainly would not have been able to achieve some of my personal goals. I am delighted to be an ambassador of the Hear and Say: Here to Stay Giving Day, and encourage the community to dig deep in support of more children at the start of their journeys.”

Michael Eales

“It came as a complete shock when our daughter, Mia was diagnosed with a permanent hearing loss after further testing. We were surprised to begin the journey again with our second daughter Ava, but this time full of confidence and certainty in knowing with Hear and Say we were in the best hands.”

As the father of two young girls, both born with hearing loss, Michael knows first-hand the critical importance of early intervention. Having now been part of the Hear and Say community for over four years, Michael is a proud ambassador for the Hear and Say: Here to Stay Giving Day.

“Thankfully we found Hear and Say and through their Early Intervention program, we are learning all the skills to best support our daughters, Mia and Ava in their journeys learning to hear, listen and speak.”

Ronnelle and Kenny Hollier

“Indi and her twin brother spent months in hospital after being born at 26 weeks. When they got discharged, she failed her newborn hearing test so that’s where our journey began.”

Ronnelle and Kenny’s daughter, Indi was diagnosed with hearing loss in both ears, and received her hearing aids at six months of age. While the hearing aids became a way of life for Indi, Ronnelle reached out to Hear and Say for further support.

Indi is now a confident and articulate six-year-old with a love of learning and a wonderful sense of humour, whose speech and language skills are just as good as her natural hearing school friends. She has even stood up and presented to her classmates to teach them about hearing loss, and expressed her pride in her hearing aids.

Ronnelle says Hear and Say helped her adopt better ways of raising a child with hearing impairment: “If it wasn’t for early intervention in those younger years, she wouldn’t be the child she is today.”

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Maia’s Story

At 9.10pm on 24 October 2013 our beautiful daughter Maia was born. 

The moment of elation was short-lived as we immediately noticed her left ear was missing. I frantically looked to the medical team around me for answers but received none.

Panic set in as we waited 4 days in hospital for an ENT to explain her condition, by which point we already had all the answers from Simone, who runs the Microtia and Atresia Program at Hear and Say.

Read More

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