Family Play Day 2018

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BC Hands & Voices

Family Play Day

Saturday, May 5th, 2018
12:30pm – 2:30 pm
Bridgeview Community Centre
11475 126A St, Surrey, BC V3V 5G8
*Admission by Donation*
($5 / family suggested)

Come and get together with other families with little ones who are deaf or hard of hearing (ages 0-5 and their siblings up to 10 years old)! Parents can connect and mingle while the kids enjoy the open gym and bouncy castle. Bring your own snacks and water and don’t forget socks for the bouncy castle!

Registration is limited so be sure to RSVP with number of children and their ages.

ASL Interpreters Available

Visit our Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/handsandvoicesBC
RSVP: ckalchbrenner@cw.bc.ca

Family Play Day Flyer<< click here

 

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Fun Family Picnic 2018

WHO: BC Hands & Voices, Guide By Your Side, BC Early Hearing Program, CHHA BC Parents’ Branch, Family & Community Services, Family Network for Deaf Children – Deaf Youth Today (DYT)

WHAT: An event for deaf/hard of hearing children, their siblings and parents and children with their Deaf/hard of hearing parents (CODA). Join us for a fun day! We will provide:
• Hot dog lunch
• Entertainment and games for the kids
• An opportunity to mix and mingle with other families and with youth/young adults who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Please bring with you:
• a salad, fruit or vegetable plate or dessert to share (note: no freezer/fridge/oven)
• lawn chairs or blanket to sit on
Rain or Shine!  Free admission! Donations gratefully accepted at the event.

WHEN: Saturday June 16th, 10:30 am to 2:00 pm

WHERE: Victory Hill/ Provincial Deaf & Hard of Hearing Services 4334 Victory St., Burnaby BC

CONTACT/ RSVP: Registration is required so we know how many people to expect. 
Please register online by June 11th at  www.fndc.ca/familypicnic

Special Note– Families of children with Atresia/ Microtia – let’s meet up at the picnic! Please contact Catherine: ckalchbrenner@cw.bc.ca  who will collect names, and introduce families to one another during the picnic.

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Proposed Changes to BC H&V Bylaws

Notice of special resolution: The board of BC Hands & Voices will be forwarding a special resolution to rescind and replace our current bylaws with an updated version that reflects our new two-tier membership structure. The special resolution will be voted on at the May 7th (2018) board meeting, to be held 7pm – 9pm at Children’s Hearing & Speech Centre of BC (3575 Kaslo St., Vancouver). All eligible BC Hands & Voices voting members are invited to attend. The updated bylaws are available for review here: Proposed Changes to BC Hands & Voices Bylaws

Please RSVP to ckalchbrenner@cw.bc.ca by Saturday May 5th, 2018

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The BC Hands & Voices 2018 AGM: Reflecting on the year that was, and planning for the one to come

By Lee Johnston

The BC Hands & Voices AGM – held this year on March 5th – always provides an opportunity to reflect and take pride in all our organization has accomplished over the past year. In this month’s article we’re sharing some highlights from the president’s report on our past year’s activities. We hope you’ve enjoyed being part of the extended Hands & Voices family, and look forward to another year of serving families of Deaf and hard of hearing children aged 0-5!

The BC H&V Board

The board has remained fairly stable this year after saying good bye to some longer-term members in the years previous. Teresa Kazemir stepped into the secretary’s role and will continue acting in the role as past president for one more year, offering invaluable support to the new leadership team. Lee Johnston and Jen Gow will be completing the second of their 2 year term commitments as President and Vice-president respectively, and Amy Ho will continue on in her role as treasurer after doing an outstanding job in this area for the past year. Kim Shauer will continue as our amazing GBYS Coordinator, and Jenny Hatton, Joy Santos, Dan Braun, and our newest addition Rabab Elbaharia will continue to serve on the board for this upcoming year. We’re happy to have such a diverse and dedicated group of parents and professionals on our team!

 

Past Year’s Accomplishments

The H&V board has been busy since hosting last year’s AGM, which featured a discussion on traveling with Deaf/Hard of Hearing children. On top of 7 board meetings and our annual all day retreat, board representatives joined in on Hands & Voices headquarter calls, local meetings of the Council of Service Providers, and the Coalition of Parent Organizations (BC H&V, CHHA, and FNDC).

BC H&V parents also participated on a panel for the BC Early Hearing Program Newborn Hearing Screener training in April 2017, providing feedback on their screening experience and particularly on improving how they communicate with parents. In May of last year, Teresa & Jen (along with another parent Bobbi Taylor) presented at a conference for Teacher of the DHH/Hearing Resource teachers. In the fall, Kim presented on both GBYS Program & BC Hands & Voices events to audiologists.

On top of that, we hosted the following events for parents of DHH kids:

EVENT DATE TOPIC (if applicable)
2017
Coffee Night Jan 23 Mild/ Moderate Hearing Levels
AGM/ Workshop March 6 Traveling with Your Deaf/ Hard of Hearing Child
Coffee Night April 24 Deaf Culture
Coffee Night May 29th Microtia/ Atresia
June picnic June 17 Family Fun picnic
Summer get-together (Chinese Families) July 29th
Summer get-together August 22
Coffee Night Sept 28 Sleep time Strategies
Fall Parent Workshop Nov 4 Growing Up with Hands & Voices
Coffee Night Nov 27 Unilateral Hearing
2018
Coffee Night Jan 29 Use of Technology for DHH individuals

Through our monthly electronic newsletter we distributed original articles written by board members and special guests, as well as favourites from our archives, a helpful link, a profile of a featured board member or parent guide, and news about local events – to over 200 members! We continued to provide quarterly submissions to the Hand & Voices Communicator, which we distributed to paid members 4 times a year.

Perhaps our proudest accomplishment is the fact that the BC H&V Guide by Your Side program continues to support families across BC with both Parent Guides and DHH Guides. Approximately 70 families over this past year were put in touch with understanding parents and role models.  

Acknowledgements

Last and certainly not least, we would not have been able to accomplish all that we have over the past year without donations and grants. We want to recognize and thank the following organizations for their funding and in-kind support:

  • The BC Early Hearing Program for the use of the conference line, and support for our events and activities, as well as housing and funding our GBYS program.
  • Children’s Hearing and Speech Centre of BC, BC Family Hearing Resource Centre, the Deaf Well-Being Program for the use of their facilities for our meetings and coffee nights.
  • Children’s Hearing and Speech Centre of BC for use of their facilities for our fall workshop and childcare.
  • And all of the board members, volunteers and staff for their donations as well as their participation and dedication over the past year.

And most of all, we’d like to thank the families who have joined H&V as members, come out to our events, and engaged with us over the past year. We look forward to serving you for the year to come!

  • The BC H&V Board
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2018 AGM & Parent Evening

 

BC Hands & Voices Parent Evening & AGM

Monday March 5, 2018
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Free to attend

Location: 6077 181 Street, Surrey

 

 

 

A Parent Evening covering any topic you’d like to discuss!

An open topic “meet up” for parents of deaf/hard of hearing children newborn to 5 years old! Join some veteran H&V parents, board members, and local Guide By Your Side Guides in a casual discussion of whatever is on your mind.

BC Hands & Voices Annual General Meeting 7:00-7:30pm

We’ll begin with a short AGM, where we will share what BC Hands & Voices has accomplished over the past year!

ASL interpreters will be provided

Parking Information
Cul-de-sac parking is limited, but more parking available on side streets.

For more information or if you live outside the Lower Mainland and need the teleconference information please email ckalchbrenner@cw.bc.ca

Download Flyer Here: 2018 AGM

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A Fantastic Blend of Education, Inspiration and Connection – My Experience at the 2017 Hands & Voices Leadership Conference

By Lee Johnston

In September of last year, I was fortunate to be able to attend the 14th annual Hands & Voices Leadership Conference. Since joining BC Hands & Voices a couple of years ago I had heard only glowing references about this conference – referred to as “Leadership” in Hands & Voices shorthand. I was admittedly a bit reluctant at first to travel to Galena, Illinois for the three-day meeting, as it was a busy time of year to be flying off and leaving my toddler behind. Luckily my parents and partner are generous folks and made it possible for me to leave for an extended weekend. So, after two flights and a 90-minute drive through seemingly endless cornfields, I arrived at Leadership, excited and a bit curious to see what all the fuss was about.  

Lee at the conference

As it turned out, the hype around the H&V Leadership conference was well-earned. I’ve been to a variety of conferences and workshops before, but Leadership is unique. It presents a fantastic blend of education, inspiration and connection with like-minded parents and professionals working to support families of deaf and hard of hearing children. The theme of the 2017 conference was “Transforming Systems with Family Engagement: The H&V Way.” Over the course of three days myself and my local chapter counterparts were immersed in discussions on a wide range of topics. Some of these related to H&V’s core programs and overall mission of providing unbiased support to families. Others imparted valuable information for leaders in non-profit, volunteer-led organizations – material that will hopefully help our H&V chapter continue to grow and thrive in the future as we build on an already strong foundation. Perhaps the most powerful conference content came in the form of personal stories – of Deaf/Hard of Hearing (D/HH) adults sharing their past struggles in navigating identity in biased systems; of parents sharing their challenges in forming and sustaining local H&V chapters; of H&V leaders describing the encounters they continue to have with professional support systems as they work to improve them for families.

Left to Right – Interpreter, Janet DesGeorges (Executive Director), Vicki Hunting (Director of Data and Evaluation)

If I had to narrow down my Leadership experience to a few key takeaways, it would be these:

  1. We are very fortunate in British Columbia to have an early hearing screening program and three parent-driven family support organizations. I had the opportunity to speak to parents from all over the United States who are in the beginnings of supporting local H&V chapters, or trying to resuscitate ones that are faltering. Other provinces across Canada are going through similar challenges. BC is a leader in Canada on engaging parents in system transformation, and we should be proud of that!  
  2. Deaf/HH encompasses a vast range of experiences, methods of communication, and life circumstances. This may be an obvious statement, but one that was driven home time and time again throughout the conference – both from speakers and through casual conversations. Anita Dowd from Kentucky H&V gave an amazing talk highlighting some of these factors and how they impacted her decisions around her identity and language used to describe her deafness. In case you missed the link to a fantastic article capturing some of her thoughts in last month’s newsletter, the article can be found here: http://www.handsandvoices.org/articles/deafpersp/V20-3_cursive-d.html.
  3. Parent-led organizations and family support systems will benefit by continuing to diversify their membership, not only in relation to DHH identity, but also in regards to ethnicity, culture, socio-economic status and other factors that influence parental decision making. By widening the tent and bringing more voices into the fold, we can continue to expand the reach and impact of parent-led efforts to help D/HH families.

As a first-timer at Leadership and fairly recent member of H&V, I only scraped the surface of what the annual conference has to offer. I look forward to going back next year and know that it will feel like a family reunion of sorts. Such is the magic of Hands & Voices – and the parents who drive it.

A room full of engaged and dedicated parents & professionals

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Parent Coffee Night- Use of Technology for Deaf/Hard ​of Hearing Individuals

(Attend in person or join via Teleconference or online video
conference if you live outside the Lower Mainland)

Monday January 29​th​, 2018 7:00pm- 9:00pm
Location: ​243 Sandringham Avenue, New Westminster

An opportunity for parents of deaf / hard of hearing children 0-5 to learn from Deaf / Hard of Hearing role models (Monique Les, Felicia D’Amato & Bowen Tang) about the many different technologies they use to help support communication, learning and everyday life!

Please join us: If you’re interested in the phone-in/ video option, please RSVP
by January 27th so that we can provide you with the access details. Please
email Catherine at ckalchbrenner@cw.bc.ca

Please see Flyer 2018 H&V Coffee Night Technology DHH (2)

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Teresa Kazemir: Going From Strength to Strength After a Decade of Leadership

By Jen Gow

BC Hands & Voices was thrilled to award Teresa Kazemir a “Lifetime Honorary Membership” at our recent annual parent workshop “Growing Up with Hands & Voices”. Many of you may already know Teresa from one or more of the many roles she plays within our community, for example as a past Guide By Your Side Parent Guide and Coordinator, a host or presenter at our BC Hands & Voices coffee nights, workshops and picnics, an early intervention Speech Language Pathologist, and as the parent of three children, one of whom is hard of hearing. Phew, it can make you tired just to think of all of that!

Even if you haven’t had the chance to meet Teresa, your family has undoubtedly benefited from her pioneering leadership here in British Columbia. Since the inception of the BC Early Hearing Program more than 10 years ago, she has played a pivotal role in supporting families of young deaf and hard of hearing children, and in promoting the importance of parent-to-parent support.

Her involvement started in 2006 as a member of the Parent Advisory Group that provided a parent perspective to help guide the process of establishing BC Early Hearing Program. (BCEHP is the province-wide screening program that checks hearing for babies born in BC, and integrates services from hearing screening and testing to early intervention support following the identification of hearing loss.) A year later, BCEHP was ready to consider adding a parent-to-parent support component to its program. Along with Cathy Luther, Teresa was sent to a Hands & Voices Leadership Conference to explore whether their Guide By Your Side (GBYS) program could be a good model for parent-to-parent support within BC. Impressed with what they learned, Teresa and Cathy indeed returned recommending that BC set up a GBYS program and a BC chapter of Hands & Voices that could run the program in conjunction with BCEHP.

There was a huge amount of work involved to turn this recommendation into a reality, and it was Teresa and Cathy who spearheaded this. Teresa volunteered tirelessly to bring together a founding board of directors and establish BC Hands & Voices as a non-profit society, establishing its mission statement and by-laws. This administrative task was all the more formidable as BC Hands & Voices was the first chapter to be set up outside of the USA.

At the same time, Teresa was hired by BCEHP as the first GBYS Parent Coordinator. Teresa brought together the first team of Parent Guides in record time; incredibly all of this was set in place within just a few months so that the new Parent Guides were ready for the initial training that Hands & Voices was providing to our new chapter in the spring of 2008.

After the initial flurry of getting BC Hands & Voices and GBYS off the ground, Teresa’s philosophy of “we can’t do everything, but we can do something” ensured they not only kept going but gathered strength and momentum. This came about in part from Teresa’s diligent worker bee attitude but also from her capacity as a thoughtful leader. Her persistent hard work is inspiring, and just as motivating is her unwavering fairness and patience, as well as her infectious enthusiasm.

Teresa truly embodies the Hands & Voices philosophy of providing unbiased support and the belief that families will make the best choices for their children if they have access to good information and support. Her dedication has meant that families of young deaf and hard of hearing children across this province have had consistent access to parent-to-parent support from an organization that embraces all families within the entire spectrum of communication choices and hearing levels.

Under Teresa’s leadership, BC Hands & Voices and GBYS have grown into a strong, sustainable organization and program with a wide reach. After five years, Teresa handed over the reigns of GBYS Coordinator to Kim Shauer. More recently, after serving as Leader of BC Hands & Voices for an impressive decade, Teresa has passed the baton on to Lee Johnston this year. Her work with BC Hands & Voices continues; as Past-President, Teresa remains an active member of the BC Hands & Voices Executive Board, and she also serves the organization at the international level by sitting on the Hands & Voices Board of Directors.

It is a privilege to work alongside Teresa and learn from her experience and expertise. Teresa offers all of us in this community a great deal – by listening to her story as a mother, a professional and a leading community volunteer, we too can become stronger parents and advocates for our children, and better support one another along the way.

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BC Hands & Voices and Guide by Your Side’s 2017 Fall Parent Workshop was a great success!

By Kim Shauer

A glimpse into the crystal ball – the perspective of teens & pre-teens who are growing up “Hands & Voices.”  Relationships, language considerations, challenges & more!

About 40 parents came out for our workshop this year to learn, socialize with other parents and have the opportunity to meet Deaf/Hard of Hearing Guides and adult role models.

Morning presenters Teresa Kazemir, Joy Santos and Kim Shauer shared some of their experiences developing their “parenting a deaf/hard of hearing child” perspective in a presentation originally developed by Leanne Seaver and Janet DesGeorges, founding members of the Hands & Voices organization.  

The presentation – “Is this a Deaf/Hard of Hearing Thing?” explores what aspects of a child’s behavior are typical “kid” things, and what might be due to their hearing difference.  Parents were encouraged to take a moment before reacting and ask themselves two questions:  

1) Is the behaviour a direct result of or influenced by access or communication?

2) Do I need to re-evaluate what my instinctual response was going to be?

Parents learn this sensitivity and awareness from a variety of places including their ‘new’ parent community, Deaf and hard of hearing adults/role models, and professionals.  Parents also develop these skills over time from experience – when   children act in unexpected ways that can be socially out-of-synch or even inappropriate, the first thing we should look for is communication breakdown.

Here are some tips picked up along the way to help develop your own “deaf/hard of hearing perspective” when it comes to your child:

  1. Be pro-active and actively teach world knowledge that your child may not pick up through incidental learning or “overhearing” some background information. Babies and toddlers wonder where parents go when they leave the room (they may not hear where you are in the house), and can have anxiety over when a parent is coming back. To help reduce anxiety, share with your child what you are doing, where you are going, when you’ll be back.  This also presents an opportunity to learn language in various ways – sign, tell, show a photo, have child touch an object cue (e.g. spoon for kitchen, hand towel for bathroom).
  2. Check for comprehension (tell me what you understood). Then fill in missing information and correct misunderstandings. Our first instinct may be to take a toy away if not sharing – but first examine if the child understood the concept of turn-taking and sharing.
  3.  “Never mind rule.”  A D/deaf or hard-of-hearing person may tell you that the most annoying thing they hear on a regular basis is “never mind.” This can be very frustrating, not only because of missing out on information, but also because it sends the message that the D/deaf or hard of hearing person is not worth the extra effort.  Even if the comment or joke has passed, it still needs to be explained.
  4. Anticipate potential communication access challenges; be proactive to make accommodations and then fill in any gaps that arise.
  5. Have high expectations and periodically ask yourself, “Is this typical, age-appropriate or developmentally-appropriate for my child’s level, considering additional challenges?” Ask your early interventionist who to talk to if you have concerns, and take action!

The afternoon session of the workshop, moderated by Jen Gow, was a definite highlight for attendees, with a glimpse into the future shared by a panel of parents, children and teens. The panelists represented a range of hearing levels, hearing equipment and access preferences, and school settings.

The children and teens shared how they answer questions about their hearing aids or cochlear implants and how they were encouraged to answer these questions from other kids in a positive, matter of fact way by their parents from an early age.

The children and teens on the panel also shared their interests in a variety of extra-curricular activities, including softball, dance, basketball, reading and Xbox, and they shared what strategies and adaptations work for them to thrive in these activities. For example, Kacie uses secret hand signals and numbered plays on the softball diamond, Caitlin reminds her dance teacher to move so that she can better see what she’s saying, and Michael uses various communications strategies depending on which basketball team he’s playing for.

Challenges can of course arise and some days can feel particularly difficult. The majority of the “bad days” shared seemed to involve a change to daily routines, dead batteries, fluctuating hearing levels or missing out on a social experience due to access. When these types of things occur, the panelists shared the importance of self-advocating, of having other deaf/hard of hearing friends in their lives to sign or chat with, and of having activities (such as dance) that make them feel confident. It was interesting to see some of the kids shift between signing and speaking, and describe how their chosen modality depends on their communication partner, their environment, or whether they had food in their mouth!  Overall it was obvious that these young people are clear communicators in a variety of modalities and are building a healthy resilience as well as skills that will serve them well through life.

Parents on the panel shared that it takes practice to learn to advocate for your child and to teach your child to advocate for themselves, but that it’s very important. It was great to see that even the youngest panelists have no issues telling their hearing friends “get closer to me”, “look at me and say it again” or “step back from my face, you’re talking too loud!” Parents also shared stories of the importance of building connections with other deaf/hard of hearing peers, especially when a child is the only one in his or her school with a hearing difference.

Altogether it was clear that the parents are working hard to encourage their children to feel limitless in terms of their potential. The confidence that these children and teens have, as well as their useful tools and strategies have obviously come from positive modelling and an overflowing amount of love from their parents, role models and other positive influences in their lives.

——————————–

BC Hands & Voices would like to extend a big thank you to the BC Early Hearing Program, Children’s Hearing & Speech Centre of BC for the use of their beautiful facility and to Deaf Children’s Society and Children’s Hearing & Speech Centre of BC for providing professional childcare staff.  A special thank you to the Elsa and Anna, signing princesses from Storybook Dreams Parties for their exciting visit to the children in the childcare room.

  

And as with all events such as this, we recognize and appreciate the many hours put in by board members and volunteers, our presenters and panellists.

Thank you everyone for your time and hard work. Your contributions all helped to make the Fall Workshop 2017 a big success!

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From Adrift to Confident: a Parent Shares the Impact BC Hands & Voices has had on her Family

BC Hands & Voices (BC H&V) was recently nominated for the Canada’s Volunteer Awards in the Social Innovator category. While BC H&V has learned that we were not a finalist for the award this year, the following is a letter written by a parent in support of the nomination, which shares some of her experiences with BC H&V and the positive impact we have had on her family. (This is an English translation of Ella’s letter of support. The original letter follows).

When I learned that BC Hands & Voices (BC H&V) would be nominated for the Canada’s Volunteer Awards in the Social Innovator category, I decided that I must write this support letter so you know about the positive impact BC H&V’s volunteer work has on me and my child.

When my daughter’s hearing loss was confirmed in mid-2015, I was sad and confused. I didn’t know what to do. I felt like a small boat drifting in the ocean, sinking any time. Later that year, I attended BC H&V’s annual Parent Workshop as suggested to me by a BC Early Hearing Program Parent Guide. At the Workshop, a UBC expert on deaf education talked about the importance and ways of building up deaf/hard of hearing children’s self-confidence, and establishing friendship with others. Another speaker was a deaf person with a Master’s Degree in Education.

I had never met any person/children with hearing loss before. At the Workshop, I witnessed that people with hearing loss can become successful professionals. The most important element is how the parent nurtures the child. I also had the opportunity to meet other families whose children have hearing loss. We talked about our stories, and we felt more confident in raising our deaf and hard of hearing children.

I attended the BC H&V’s Parent Workshop again the following year. I learned more about the stories of some young adults who have different hearing levels, and the valuable advice from their parents’ experiences raising them. I learned more about how to nurture my child. These veteran parents’ stories give me hope and encouragement. It gives me the confidence that I can also help my child to have a bright future.

Another speaker was an expert in deaf education. She talked about language, learning, reading and writing development of deaf/hard of hearing children and what parents can do. The presentation empowered me, and I feel more confident in raising my child with hearing loss.

Besides organizing helpful workshops for families, BC Hands & Voices is very thoughtful in running the workshop. Childcare is provided so that parents can focus on the presentations.

Although I have been around for a few years as an immigrant now, I do not know the other cities too well. My child’s hearing loss was also a blow to me at that time. So I was nervous to drive to a city that I was not familiar with to attend the Parent Workshop. When I told the BC H&V volunteer about my concern, she talked to the parent group right away, and they arranged to have a taxi take me to and back from the Workshop with the travel assistance for families they received from the Children’s Hospital. So it was a worry-free journey to the Workshop.

English is not my mother tongue, and I have difficulty understanding the presentations in English. BC H&V provided Chinese interpreting for me so I could follow the presentations. It has helped to boost my confidence in raising my child.

Besides organizing annual parent workshops, BC H&V also runs a fun family picnic in the summer. They provide food, entertainment by clowns or magicians and set up ball games so children from different age groups can pick what they like. Parents can talk with each other, share their stories and become empowered while children are playing together. I have noticed that my daughter has become happier, more confident, more willing to express herself and communicate with others after coming to these family events.  

All these events are run by the BC H&V volunteers. The events are mostly free of charge. Only a symbolic amount is charged for some activities at the event. I know that BC H&V Board Members volunteer their time and fundraising efforts to make the parent workshop and family get-togethers possible to help us parents. And I am very grateful to them!

I hope that BC Hands & Voices will be awarded the Canada’s Volunteer Awards in the Social Innovator category and win the $5,000 that comes with the award. That will enable them to organize more events for us — families with deaf/hard of hearing children.

Yours sincerely,

Ella Jiang

(Translated into English by Amy Ho)
Original Letter Follows in Simplified Chinese
BCHV Support Letter SC

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