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April 17, 2004

MISS Deaf Michigan says impairment is her gift

From: Holland Sentinel - Holland,MI,USA - Apr 17, 2004

Staff writer

Kenya Lowe is a role model. The former Miss Deaf Michigan not only told students Friday that deaf and hearing-impaired people can succeed, she showed them.

"There is no excuse for you because there are a lot of deaf people that made it," Lowe told deaf and hearing-impaired children at the E.E Fell Administration Building in Holland, both speaking and signing her remarks.

Lowe, a 2001 graduate of Michigan State University, lost her hearing at age 3. She was Miss Deaf Michigan from 1999 to 2001 and works as an outreach manager for the Michigan Relay Center, helping hearing-impaired people communicate on the telephone.

Like most deaf children, Lowe said she went through teasing, insecurity and doubt.

"Everybody would ask me, 'Is that a robot in your ear?'" Lowe said of the hearing aid she wore in elementary school.

The questions never ended throughout the years, but Lowe said she adjusted. And over the years, she said she has learned to embrace her situation.

"It is my gift," she said.

Deb Blandford, a Holland Public Schools teacher consultant for the hearing impaired heard Lowe speak in Lansing earlier this year and organized Friday's Holland visit.

Blandford said hearing impaired children \have to overcome the doubts of both themselves and others.

"They are just regular kids who can't hear," said Blandford said.

© Copyright 2003 The Holland Sentinel