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August 12, 2005

Northumberland - Families Raising Deaf Children

From: Stirling Community Press, Canada - Aug 12, 2005

A new support program for families with deaf children, "Families Raising Deaf Children," is up and running at the YMCA Northumberland Ontario Early Years Centre in Trenton, at St. Peter Catholic School, 101 Queen Street. The support group meets the third Thursday of every month, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and includes a light supper. The next meeting is scheduled for August 18.

Families Raising Deaf Children is coordinated by Parent-Child Educator Tricia Bonner, with the assistance of Sharon Partridge, Early Learning Specialist for the Trenton site. The program runs in partnership with the Canadian Hearing Society and offers a monthly informal discussion group for parents, as well as standard Early Years activities, including early learning and craft activities for the children. Canadian Hearing Society staff person Rosemary Dixon attends each meeting, bringing resources from the CHS Kingston library: technical devices, books, videos for learning sign, as well as storybooks and sing-alongs in sign for the children. Ms. Bonner hopes that come September the program will be able to draw on the skills of a few high school volunteers who are deaf and/or are able to sign to help with circle time for the children.

Parental discussion at the first few meetings has included whether to mainstream their children's education, use a school for the deaf, or homeschool, and whether to sign only, learn to speech read, use a combination of the two, or use no signing and learn to function as a hearing person would.

While the fall program is still under development, Ms. Bonner hopes that meetings will include experts making presentations on technology and resources available to families with deaf children; workshops on typical issues such as sibling rivalry; and a presentation by an area mother who has raised six children, all with various degrees of hearing loss. An application for funding has been made to support the cost of hiring an interpreter so that parents who are deaf can also participate with their children.

As with all Ontario Early Years programming, there is no cost for the Families Raising Deaf Children support group.

YMCA Northumberland Ontario Early Years Centres in Port Hope, Cobourg, Hastings, Campbellford, Brighton and Trenton (in partnership with Belleville YMCA) had a total of over 37,000 parent-child visits last year, and our Child Care Centres are currently licensed for 240 child care spaces at five child care centres (a sixth is opening in September), in a combination of before- and after-school care, nursery school, preschool, and school-age care.

For further information contact Tricia Bonner, (905) 373-8011, or Sharon Partridge, (613) 965-4272.

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