UNLV Sassmans

Camalot Todd

The Sassman family – parents Eric and Marie, Evan, 6, and Fiona, 2 – meet Jay Green, left, guardian of the UNLV men's basketball team, on Jan. 6 at the # 39; occasion of a community event sponsored by Nevada Hands. Voice.

Evan Sassman beamed with joy as he personified Jay Green, the 6-foot-5 goalkeeper of the UNLV basketball team. The parents, Marie and Eric Sassman, watched with pride.

The Sassmans were just one of many families present to meet the players and watch them train at an event organized by the non-profit organization Nevada Hands & Voices, which is aimed at families whose children are, like Evan, 6 years old, deaf or hard of hearing.

The event took place early in the morning on 6 January at the UNLV premises, and the team's players helped the young children hoist the hoop and help them with slam-dunks.

Beth Jones, the program coordinator for Nevada Hands & Voices, said events like this one help families and their children feel like part of a community.

"I was a new mom of 3. I had a 4-year-old child and a newborn diagnosed," Jones said. "There were just a lot of questions, a lot of good things on the Internet, a lot of scary things on the internet, so being able to find Hands & Voices and meeting other families who were going through a similar trip was very helpful. "

One of the organization's programs, Guide By Your Side, helps parents, like the Sassmans, cope with their children's daily lives through peer relationships with other parents. Jones helped the Sassmans navigate the school system.

"A parent of a deaf or hard of hearing child helps himself to mentor newly diagnosed families, which is great because a large percentage of families with children born deaf and hard of hearing do not have children." family history of hearing loss, "Jones said. "Often, the first person we meet who is deaf or hard of hearing is their own child."

That was the case with the Sassmans.

"I can tell you in elementary school, I never remember children with hearing aids," said Marie Sassman. "Not once, ever. And even at my high school, we had no one.

Marie stated that her son's hearing loss was no longer affecting his life in a radical way. He compares his ears to other kids at Nevada Hands & Voices events or happily explains why his Hot Wheels collection is so cool, or boasts of having scored 11 goals for his football team.

But Mary worries about the future of her son: will her loss worsen? Will children tease him in college? Will the family eventually have to switch from oral to sign language? does he get the best services at school?

Marie said this is where her partner's connection with Jones has been helpful.

In the meantime, Jones said she was more than happy to help other people by providing them with detailed information on education and the messy aspects of watching and caring for their children's health. .

"My two children have progressive hearing loss," said Jones, "My daughter, she has lost a lot of hearing in recent years, and I did not know it could be a typical thing, upset and did not understand. not, and it was a kind of mourning process.

"Other people feel the same way, so it takes away that guilt." Even, you know: "What did I do when I was pregnant?" Did I do to cause that? ". I knew now that it was not the case (but) most of our families feel this way."

Those wishing to help non-profit organizations can do so by making a donation or donating money, space for an event or catering, just as MRG Marketing & Management donated Raising's restoration Cane for the UNLV event.

Jones said companies that donate food or space, or help sponsor events, allow such gatherings to be free for the families served.

Other programs offered include bi-weekly parent meetings in Las Vegas and Reno on specific topics such as assistive technologies, a hearing aid bank and a scholarship program.

For more information, visit nvhandsandvoices.org, call 775-351-1959 or follow the organization on Facebook at @nvhandsandvoices.