A Batemans Bay seven-year-old will bend the ears of MPs in Canberra about why early intervention matters when it comes to hearing loss.
Annie Fleming will join five other children on Tuesday, October 22 at Parliament House asking MPs to listen up.
The 2019 Power of Speech event has the theme My Hearing Future and hopes to show howearly intervention support and cochlear implants have helped the children reach their potential.
Annie will share her story between 7am and 8.45am in the Mural Hall.
The event is sponsored by Cochlear Limited and Annie has received a cochlear implant.
She has been participating in The Shepherd Centre's Early Intervention Program and organisers say she defies misconceptions about growing up with a hearing loss.
"Annie was born with profound sensorineural hearing loss in her left ear and received a cochlear implant," the centre said.
Annie is also a rising sports star, winning the 2018/19 age champion at the Batemans Bay Swimming Club
"This, however, does not stop Annie from excelling in her Year 1 classes at her primary school in Batemans Bay, where she is the first child with hearing loss to attend.
"Annie has been working hard to educate her school and peers about hearing loss. In Kindergarten, she and her brother were finalists in the school talent quest, where they demonstrated to the school community the wonders of Annie's hearing devices.
"Annie is also a rising sports star, winning the 2018/19 age champion at the Batemans Bay Swimming Club and receiving the coach's award from her club soccer team. She loves gymnastics, athletics, bike riding and handball.
"Hearing loss has presented many challenges for Annie, and consequently she has grown to become a resilient mindful young person. Despite these challenges, Annie will happily declare that hearing loss is 'just her thing'.
"The Power of Speech event celebrates the remarkable outcomes possible for cochlear implant recipients and is part of First Voice's world-leading early intervention programs for children with hearing loss. The six speakers from across Australia and New Zealand will help challenge common perceptions about hearing loss and what people with hearing loss can achieve."
Shepherd Centre CEO Dr Jim Hungerford said the children were shining examples of the bright future possible for children with hearing loss.
"We're looking forward to seeing Annie and her fellow speakers inspire our political leaders with their outstanding speech and language skills," he said.
"Despite their young age, they will share unique insights into the challenges faced by young people growing up with hearing loss. Unfortunately, many people don't realise the remarkable future possible for people with hearing loss, but these children are sure to set these misconceptions straight.
"All people, regardless of disability, deserve to have equal opportunities to reach their full potential and make their dreams come true. These incredible young Australians truly are testament to the value of early intervention when it comes to giving deaf children the very best chance in life," he said.
A First Voice study into the education, employment and social outcomes of children with hearing loss who receive early intervention revealed that around three in five (62%) of these children go on to achieve a tertiary level qualification. This compares to only two in five (43.3%) of the general population 1.