Never in a million years did I expect to be standing in the rain with a fish! Yes, that is me with the Lakeshore Chinooks' mascot, Gil. Yes,it is raining and freezing! I went to the Chinooks' game as a fundraiser for Communication Connections,Inc. I never grew up as a baseball fan-lived in Cleveland and never attended one Indians' game:) I was a die-hard Browns' fan and went weekly with my dad. As an adult, I married the one WI bred boy who is a Chicago Cubs' fan,so I have attended many Cubs' games-those are an experience! Fun, lots to see,great food, good ball,etc. Now that I have a son who is into sports, I attend weekly baseball games that he plays,too. I am constantly asking 100 questions about the rules-they keep changing the older he gets;)
Fast forward to July 2012-we had the opportunity to go to a Chinooks' game and it would be a fundraiser. Who could say ,"no."? I had no idea what to expect. I heard it was a family friendly experience and jumped in headfirst. I hoped for the best. I did not grow up in a family that experienced life. We lived in a small suburb on the East side of Cleveland and did things right there. I can't remember going to the Westside and I only remember going downtown a handful of times other than going to Browns' games. I thought I was savvy growing up-until I left and went to college. I realized I didn't experience anything.
I dated my husband and when he came to visit me in Cleveland and was shocked at how little of the state and city I had experienced. I was not wordly or able to use a map very well. He,however,had driven cross country with his family and was the one who mapped the path out. I learned that I had missed out on so much in my life. I vowed to change my ways. I love driving (solo even)cross country and seeing the world. I love to try new experiences-from race car driving (his passion,not mine), sports, marching band, art, art shows, volunteering at the humane society,etc). I have tried to expose my children to everything they wish to try and encourage them to do extra. If we don't enjoy it,so be it,but at least we tried.
I think this is so important for kids with hearing loss. They have so many delays in vocabulary because of their hearing loss. They need many experiences again and again in order to hold those ideas in their minds. Reading and learning in school is one thing-experiencing is another! Take your children this summer to the Children's Museum-Madison/Milwaukee and Kenosha have great ones. Take them on a walk in the woods and stop and point out the names of things. Go get a burger or hotdog across town-tell kids the name of the new restaurant or city you are in. Often, we think that because of their hearing loss,we won't bother mentioning all the details-it slows conversation, we need to repeat,etc. NO,that is more the reason to label and explain!
My kids came to the Chinooks' game with me -in the rain and cold. My daughter was there for me-not the game,but she experienced it. My son enjoyed the baseball aspect. I will surely go back-I learned that minor league baseball with family friendly activities that can keep my attention occupied is right up my ally! So glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and tried something new!! What will YOU try this week with your family?
Allison Schley has been in the field of deaf and hard of hearing education for 20 years. She founded a nonprofit for families with hearing loss. She most recently wrote a children's book, entitled Forever Friends. This book shows the how a deaf dog and deaf boy teach the world that all kids are good and being deaf is okay.