LAST week I represented the South West at the launch of the National Deaf Children’s Society’s (NDCS) ‘My Life, My Health’ campaign, writes Lucy Armstrong, aged 15.
I’m a member of NDCS’s Youth Advisory Board (YAB) and was delighted to be picked as one of two main presenters for the launch.
‘My Life, My Health’ is a new initiative to improve deaf young people’s experiences of health and well-being services.
I am hearing impaired and wear two hearing aids and am aiming to ‘spread the word’ about young people and deafness.
At the launch campaign in central London, I met Paralympic medallist Ben Rushgrove and discussed with him not only his sporting career, but also the challenges he has faced in his life.
He was once told that he wouldn’t be able to walk or talk – and now he is living the dream that he always wanted.
Each deaf young person has different experiences, preferences and different access to services and therefore the campaign has been split into three areas.
Deaf Awareness: How deaf aware are health professionals? Including topics such as health appointments and understanding information and having the confidence to say if they didn’t.
Access to Information: How deaf young people can find information and access services to make life easier.
Independence: Growing up to be responsible for yourself. (A lot of deaf people still would rather go to the doctor with parents and rely on them for communication support.
During the launch young people used a range of concepts to describe the challenges they face.
One YAB member described it like a game of Snakes and Ladders – the snakes being the setbacks and the ladders the glimmers of hope, the support, and pockets of inspiration from others.
As part of the campaign, my family and I took part in a short video to highlight these challenges. The video can be found at on You Tube by searching ‘my deaf teenager and the doctor’ on the National Deaf Children’s Society page.
Every day there are people facing challenges, big or small. However, deaf young people face even bigger challenges, some so big they are hard to overcome.
It has been great to be involved in a project that will help raise the awareness of deaf young people and change attitudes for the future.
The launch of ‘My Life, My Health’ marked the end of my 18-month tenure as a member of the National Deaf Children Society’s YAB, but I hope to continue championing the campaign through my role as Chairperson of the Dorchester Youth Council and as a young advisor to the Dorset Deaf Children’s Society.
n Lucy Read, head of Children and Young People’s Participation, said: “Deaf young people like Lucy have the right to high quality, accessible health care.
“Our findings indicate that a lack of accessible services means deaf teenagers often struggle to understand what is happening to them during an appointment, or they are forced to rely on their families to access basic information about their health, even into adulthood.”