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Shine Autumn 2023

There are many exciting achievements and fresh ambitions to share – which you have helped make possible.
Hearing awareness week at NextSense

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Welcome to Shine 2023. We bring you stories about the incredible students we support at NextSense.

Three stories to make you smile

The sky’s the limit for Joshua

Congratulations to Joshua – another international writing award

Would you believe Joshua began learning braille at 12 months old using tennis balls in muffin tins? Now 15, he is an accomplished and internationally recognised writer in braille.

Your kindness ensures Joshua has weekly support to assist him to continue to thrive. He’s excelled in academic work, and recently achieved an international peace award for his essay written in braille, sharing stories from his grandfather, a WW2 veteran. This is not his first international writing award. In 2017, he was recognised in the Queens Commonwealth Essay Competition, and caught the attention of the Duchess of Cornwall!

Joshua’s writing has attracted royal recognition. This is just the beginning for this talented young man. Thank you for fuelling Joshua’s ambitions to write.

Ruby’s journey to independence

Ruby’s cochlear implants have changed her life Ruby’s hearing loss was detected at six weeks of age – and since then, her life has been
transformed by cochlear implants. Ruby was the 1000th cochlear implant patient through NextSense at eight months old and reacted with ‘a smile that lit up the room’.

NextSense Connected Services, provided for young people like Ruby, with your kind assistance, has been essential to her learning. Ruby’s mum, Tania, says access to this support has helped Ruby become the strong and confident person she is today, and she is so grateful.

Ruby just completed a gap year on a remote cattle station in Western Australia working as a ringer. She was mustering, branding, ear tagging and helping care for up to 1500 cattle a day - what an experience! With her great passion for agriculture, Ruby’s on a path to a bright future. Thank you so much.

Atylda’s amazing art

Thanks to you, Atylda has the support she needs This budding artist has created a book! Eleven-year-old Atylda from Townsville is a budding artist. Diagnosed with Knobloch syndrome at the age of three, which causes extreme short-sightedness, Atylda has worked hard to master braille through remote learning. And she’s succeeded brilliantly, thanks to the kind support of donors like you.

Using her incredible skills and passion for art, Atylda wrote a book in braille entitled ‘The alligator who used the elevator’. She is so proud the book is now able to be borrowed from Cranbook State School library. Without donors like you, Atylda’s essential weekly braille sessions would not be possible. What a difference you makeor Atylda every day – thank you!

New centre for innovation is taking shape

An artist's impression of the NextSense best practice innovation centre being built at Macquarie University

The next few months will be an exciting time for NextSense and the people we support, as we move to complete our new best practice centre for innovation based at Macquarie University campus.

This venture represents a new era for hearing and vision loss and will be a place for us and others to nurture, trial and share new ideas to drive better outcomes for children, adults and their families. We are well on the way to building our state-of-the-art centre that is custom designed for our clients and our students. It will be an important collaboration space and will help us scale up and refine our in-person and remote services to meet growing demand. We’ll improve child and family access to much-neededearly intervention services, connect more professionals and clients with our leading cochlear implant program, address a growing need for adult cochlear implant services, and demonstrate what best practice inclusive education could look like in the future.

Our plans are on track to complete construction and relocate later in 2023.

Greg’s lifetime of impact

Greg Leigh

Professor Greg Leigh AO has spent his entire career focused on one thing – making an impact for children who need support to live to their full potential. And it all began way back in Year 12.

‘I had my sights set on being a teacher, working with kids with disabilities. My decision was made after observing our school guidance officer, who was also my Year 10 science teacher. She was incredibly inclusive of kids with learning difficulties and it really left a mark on me. She encouraged me that I could do the same.’

After University, Greg began teaching at the Queensland School for the Deaf in 1979 – 44 years ago – and went on to postgraduate studies in speech and hearing science.

Today a passionate researcher and Director of NextSense Institute, Greg was recently honoured with Hearing Australia’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to building better research knowledge, education, and services for children with hearing loss.

Greg has followed the history of education of children who are deaf really closely. ‘I can tell you chapter and verse from Plato onwards about approaches to teaching kids who are deaf or hard of hearing. And across all that time the development that has made the biggest difference is early identification. The children I was teaching in 1979, as six-year-olds, had already missed out on years of developmental intervention because their hearing loss wasn’t known until they were two or even older .

‘The biggest game changers in the field have been the ability to identify children early through newborn hearing screening, and once identified, the opportunity to provide a cochlear implant, which gives access to spoken language far beyond anything we could have ever have imagined 40 years ago.

‘I’m really excited at the prospect that we will continue to hone our interventions and make sure that we get the best possible outcomes for all young people – and that’s what I work every day to do.’

Greg is determined to make an impact for children with hearing loss in any way he can, and that’s why he has chosen to leave a gift in his Will to NextSense.

‘Inspired by the kindness of others who leave a gift in their Will, my wife and I decided we would do the same. I now understand that even 1% of an estate can make such a big difference. There is comfort knowing the decision is already made, and researchers in the future will be able to carry on our work to change more lives’.

Your kindness helps children like Joshua, Ruby, and Atylda achieve their goals. Thanks for making their success stories possible.

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