CARE Project retreat creates resources, camaraderie for families facing challenges of hearing impairment

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In late November, the CARE Project came home, returning to Wrightsville Beach, where it all began a decade ago. They staged a weekend retreat for families with children who are deaf or experiencing profound hearing loss. Not only did these families enjoy wonderous weather, the sea, and the sand, they discovered they were not alone. They found out others shared their burdens and challenges and, more importantly, would lend a hand in helping them by sharing information and camaraderie.

One of the most poignant parts of the weekend retreat held at the Holiday Inn Resort on Wrightsville Beach was the teen panel discussion. The panel included seven teens who shared their experience navigating their deafness, hearing loss, or that of their siblings. Three of these teens are part of the Bob and Wylene McDonald clan; they are their grandchildren. Twins Ella and Tanner are seniors at Hoggard with little sister Luci beginning her approach to high school, where she will be bringing her incredible soccer skills. Ella was born hearing while Tanner and Ella both have cochlear impacts acting as their ears. Their parents, Robin and Mark Hosley still count their blessings with this amazing trio.

The teen panel candidly shared their experiences, including their problems and triumphs with different technologies. They shared moving stories of how teammates and classmates “had their backs” when others made fun of their hearing challenges or attempted to bully. Ella Hosley provided a unique perspective as the sister to two siblings with impactful hearing loss, not only being forthright about her fears but radiating her pride and love for Luci and Tanner. That love was entirely reciprocal.

Prompted by questions from parents with younger children who are deaf or with significant hearing loss, from CARE Executive director, Dr. Johnnie Sexton, and occasionally prodded by Mom, Robin, or Grandma, Wy,  all of the teens were impressive in their poise, honesty, and mindful responses.

Family retreats are organized, funded, and hosted by The CARE Project across the state of North Carolina. This weekend’s retreat was a three-day event providing experiences full of informational seminars, family-to-family bonding time, social activities, and breakout groups for moms, dads, siblings, and children who are deaf and hard of hearing. Programming encourages advocacy, resilience, and community-building. The CARE Project also offers retreat experiences in other states through agency partnerships and in other countries. They recently held their first Guam retreat experience.

The CARE Project is a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing hope to families who have children and adults with hearing challenges through counseling experiences aimed at the processing of the emotional stages of grief. CARE also is a tool for teaching professionals and pre-professionals about the importance of active listening with their clients/patients and validating their emotional state. CARE is a multidimensional tool that addresses the grief associated with hearing loss for individuals, families, communities, professionals, and pre-professionals.

Coming in 2020 is the CARE Project’s 10th Anniversary Gala, one of the most significant sources of funding for their many projects. The gala features a Roaring 20s theme and is on February 8th at the Cape Fear Country Club. Visit tcogala2020.eventbrite.com for tickets. The event chairs are Linda Brown and Ashley Robbins. To learn more about The CARE Project, visit thecareproject.com.

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