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23 September, 2020

Aramac gets loud to support deaf child

FOLLOWING THE success of last year’s event, the Aramac community will once again don their brightest shirts and spread cheer to support seven-year-old, Emily, and her ongoing battle with deafness.

By Hamish Hart

Aramac's Emily has been a continuous inspiration for the rural community ahead of Loud Shirt Day this October.

Created by Hear and Say, a non-for-profit organisation dedicated to teaching children how to hear and communicate, Loud Shirt Day is a fundraiser which encourages communities across Queensland to wear their loudest attire to support hearing impaired youngsters like Emily.

Emily’s mother and Loud Shirt Day ambassador, Kerryn Elliott, said Aramac’s inaugural event last year was a tremendous success for Hear and Say and her daughter.

“We had massive support last year at the Loud Shirt Day BBQ breakfast down the main street of Aramac,” Mrs Elliott said. “Raising $9337 in our 2019 campaign was a huge achievement for such a small community in the grips of a terrible drought.

“It just goes to show what massive hearts the people of Aramac have.”

Three weeks after her birth, Emily was diagnosed with profound hearing loss in her left ear, and moderate to severe loss in her right. At 20 months of age, she underwent surgery for a cochlear implant at the Brisbane Children’s Hospital.

Mrs Elliott said difficulties such as constant travel weighed heavily on the family, including her partner, Sam, but believed they came out “even stronger” since the initial diagnosis.

“We knew something wasn’t right when Emily failed her newborn hearing test,” Mrs Elliot said. “Initially, Sam and I were in shock as we had no family history of hearing loss and there was no indication throughout my pregnancy.

“Living in a rural area made it much more difficult. The biggest challenge we faced early on was travelling to Brisbane for many appointments. It felt very isolating being alone in a big city and not knowing what the future held for little Emily.

“The biggest challenge for Emily has been adjusting to her hearing devices and trying to keep such things on a toddler was a challenge within itself. Thankfully, we are well past that stage and she loves her ‘ears’.

“The first year took a huge toll on us emotionally and financially. It was a whirlwind of appointments and time away from home. However, we came out the other side even stronger as a family.”

Aramac’s second annual Loud Shirt Day will feature a BBQ breakfast on Gordon Street and raffles, with prizes being donated by businesses from local and surrounding areas.

CEO of Hear and Say, Chris McCarthy, said Kerryn’s management of the event had been an inspiration to communities across the state as Aramac looks to become Queensland’s Loudest Town.  

“The backbone of Hear and Say has always been our passionate supporters, and this is typified in rural communities like Aramac,” Mr McCarthy said.

“Despite the huge financial and emotional toll these towns have suffered in the face of drought, bushfires and now Covid-19, it is truly heartening to witness their extraordinary spirit and generosity in raising funds for Hear and Say through Loud Shirt Day.

“After finishing as runners up to the North Queensland town of Tully last year, Aramac is going head-to-head against the small community of Woman in a bid to become the 2020 Queensland’s Loudest Town. “When you consider Aramac has a population of fewer than 300 people and last year alone raised over $9000 to support children like Emily, you can’t help but feel incredibly humbled and inspired. 

“Kerryn and Emily know firsthand that the earliest days are crucial in supporting children born deaf or hard of hearing, and thanks to extraordinary people like them, Hear and Say is able to deliver urgent services to families who need it most, now and into the future.”

Mrs Elliot expressed her gratitude towards Hear and Say for the support the organisation has given to Emily over the years, and hopes next month’s Loud Shirt Day will continue to raise awareness for hearing impaired children like her daughter.

“Hear and Say has been a huge support for our family, especially throughout Emily’s transition to school,” she said. “She is now into her third year of weekly sessions with a wonderful Hear and Say Listening and Spoken Language therapist.

“Emily is such a happy and resilient little girl, and we know that she will overcome any challenges that life throws her way, despite her disability.

“Being almost eight years old, Emily is old enough to understand what a lovely thing it is to have the support of not only Hear and Say and the Aramac community, but the entire Central West. We are so very grateful for this and feel very lucky to live where we do.

“This is something that we’re very passionate about and we hope to continue it for many years to come.”

Aramac’s second annual Loud Shirt Day will be held on October 23. Further information can be found by visiting the event's Facebook page.


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