Articles, Blog

2019 AG Bell LOFT Program: Thank You

October 10, 2019

– In five transformational days, teenagers from all over the
world emerge as leaders. This is the powerful
effect of the LOFT program. You and others like you have made that transformation possible. And have done so for the past 23 years. – One of the reasons why it’s been around so long is because of people like yourself who have given of your time and your money to help make this program work. I’m Ken Levinson, and I am the
founder of the LOFT program. Teens who are deaf or hard of hearing come from all over the country. They come together and
they connect immediately. It makes them a lot more confident, so when they go out into the working world they can achieve more success. – Self advocacy was a
big part of the program, but I also learned about collaboration and learning about other kids across the whole nation and the world that have the same disability and are able to cope with it in many ways throughout the school programs. – I liked all the team
exercises that we did, and we all learned to work together instead of against each other. – Teens are really learning more about what it means to
be a leader in one’s life but also within a group. – My name’s Jonathan Hutcherson, I’m 20, and I have
moderate-to-severe hearing loss. I’ve loved anything to do with music since I was a kid. Being able to sing with hearing loss just takes a little bit more adjusting, and I know, I put my hearing aids on I’ll be able to hear. I would say, for any hard-of-hearing person
out there you’re not alone. There’s other people out there. You’re also unique and you’re different. Yes, you are different. And that’s part of it. So I would just encourage you to
just own it and embrace it. (gentle music) – We do have a variety
of leadership skills that brings out different
qualities in different teens. Some are more analytical,
some require math, some require creativity. It’s really a team effort, and I think these kids really begin to see and celebrate that. – It’s just a lot of fun
to kind of empower them to be able to develop the
way they want to develop but also see them grow and go on to their next steps. – Definitely after meeting
these amazing group of kids, I’ve created like lifelong friendships. – Going into it I was kind of introverted, but, like, now that I’ve
met these other kids, I’ve realized I can be outgoing. Having these teens go
through the same things was just really cool. (soft music) – We are pulling teens from
all across the country, and sometimes even outside
of the United States. They come here not knowing anyone, but leaving with friends for life. – [Catharine McNally] I hope
that these teenagers realize that we can totally
live in the mainstream. We can live independent lives, and be the person you want to be. – I believe that every
hard-of-hearing kid should go to LOFT because it’s a great way to get to learn with other people who are just like you. And you get to see how it’s not just you out
there in your hometown. I think I really was able to
improve in my self-confidence. I found my voice here. – I definitely recommend LOFT. It’s just a blast. At first, I was nervous, but it’s so much fun to meet new people. – Seeing them come with trepidation, and they’re not sure they want to be here, but by the third day they’ve really bonded and really started to
come out of their shell. And they don’t see their hearing loss as a limitation, they
see it as an opportunity. (inspirational music) – [Emilio Alonso-Mendoza]
You have helped us create over 500 leaders, and
the journey continues. Thank you for making the
world a better place. We are eternally grateful. – It takes a village, so to speak, to make something like this happen. (soft music) You people are major a
part of that village. I hope to see you continue to support as we increase and grow the
program internationally. And for that, I thank you very much. (soft music)

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