MEMPHIS, Tenn. - According to the World Health Organization, a little over 400 million people have some level of hearing loss – 34 million are children.
A new program is being developed in Memphis to reach out to youth who are a part of this number. It is called “I Am Included.”
It’s for children from 8th grade through 12th grade. Leaders and parents are hoping this provides a positive outlet for Memphis youth who may feel overlooked.
Tequilla Woodbine was recently approached by her 17-year-old son Desean, who is deaf. The conversation left a mark.
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“(He) said, ‘Mom I never feel included. When I’m going to family gatherings, I don't feel included. When getting selected for a job, I don't feel included,’” said Woodbine.
Serving as director of the Memphis Office of Youth Services, Ike Griffith realized this was a feeling many children in Memphis have.
“I wouldn’t say hope, but there was no programs in place that will help these children,” Griffith said.
And that is where “I Am Included” comes in.
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, about two to three out of every 1,000 children in the U.S. are born with a level of hearing loss.
“I Am Included” will feature programs focused on financial literacy, life skills and employment.
Griffith added the program needs resources. He will reach out to businesses and the faith-based community for support.
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