Hearing loss isn’t just a physical disability. It can also cause extreme anxiety, depression, isolation and low self-esteem in those affected.
“With kids of mixed hearing abilities on this trip, we want to make them aware of hearing challenges and train the next generation to be hearing loss advocates and make a better world by helping people to understand what these people face every day,” Barkeley says. “I met with these kids in Colorado already and they have a lot of pain, but they aren’t bitter about it. They want to make the world a better place.”
“I have very little experience on the topic of hearing loss. That is why I know it will affect me very strongly and make me more aware of the topic,” says Olivia Johnson, 18. “I hope to gain some major leadership skills, experience the rainforest, change and challenge my perception of the hearing disabled. And to learn some new and amazing things that really affect my decisions down the road in a positive way.”
And rounding out the expedition is me, Tonic reporter Jo Piazza. My father began experiencing hearing loss due to muscular dystrophy about five years ago and now he hears with a cochlear implant. He calls it his “cyber ear.” I have watched as he has adjusted to his new disability and I know that my experience in the Amazon will help me to be a more sympathetic listener for him. Throughout the nine day trip, I will be sending dispatches from the jungle and watching and chronicling as these students have the experience of a lifetime.