LEAP! Youth Leadership Program
LEAP! Leadership, Empowerment & Achievement Program
(formerly Toastmasters Youth Leadership program)
What is Our LEAP! Youth Leadership Program All About?
LEAP! teaches hard of hearing youth important life skills like leadership and public speaking in a supportive, relaxed group. These skills are important for school, employment and the future. If you ask our participants, they will tell you the most important part of LEAP! is making new friends.
“It helped me be confident and make new friends which I think is the most important part. At LEAP! we play games, and get prizes – the games are educational but they are still really fun, and the food is good too”.
Imagine, for a moment.
You are 15 years old and entering Grade 10. It is your first time going to a larger school, and you are nervous. You were born with a profound hearing loss, and have worn 2 hearing aids since you were 11 months old. Your hearing aids are a part of who you are and don’t limit you from doing the things you want to do. School is hard though, always focusing on sounds and voices You are always trying to pick out what people are saying as much as you can, lipreading when you have trouble understanding. It’s really tiring to listen all day long, and groups are so hard when everyone is talking all at once, or when your teacher forgets, and turns his back while he is speaking. At the end of the day, you just want to tune out for a while.
Your parents are pretty supportive most of the time – they meet with your itinerant teachers and take you to audiology appointments. You don’t always get along, but they always believe in you. You have a couple of really good friends, but you don’t really know anyone else who has hearing loss. Your friends are great, but sometimes they just don’t “get it”. Your teacher suggests that you try the LEAP! program at the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association – Newfoundland and Labrador, but you are nervous about meeting new people and you are not sure what to expect.
Here’s what one LEAP! participant had to say about the program:
“I really like to talk, but in school I don’t talk much and I think it’s because a lot of the kids don’t have enough patience to talk to me. At LEAP I feel more comfortable and we all understand each other and can relate to each other. We talk about being frustrated with other kids at school, or having problems, or weird things happening with your hearing aids and there’s always someone else that says ‘yeah I know what you’re talking about, it happened to me too’.”
Confidence to be yourself is an important part of growing up. Life can feel scary sometimes and there can be hurdles to overcome. The LEAP! program has been created by the Association to give teens tools and skills for life.
“There was a LEAP session on courage that I think I think about and use every day. We watched a video and had a discussion about courage and it gave me a better understanding of what courage is and I think it gave me courage to want to advocate for the hard of hearing and the Deaf Community and not just sit back and do nothing. One time I was at an event and a guy said he didn’t think Deaf people could go to University, and I said ‘just because we have hearing loss doesn’t mean we are not smart, our ears are affected but not our brain.’ I like to say we can do whatever we want as long as we put our minds to it, we may have to take a different road to get there, but we get to the same finishing line like everyone else”.
The LEAP! youth leadership program also helps teens in our community think about the future and builds confidence to go after their dreams.
“Because of being involved in LEAP! and CHHA-NL it made me realize that I like helping people and advocating for people with disabilities, right now I am at MUN doing humanities and social sciences” – former LEAP! participant
Want to Join Our LEAP! Youth Leadership Program?
The Canadian Hard of Hearing Association – Newfoundland and Labrador currently offers this 8-session program for Hard of Hearing youth ages 13-18.
- Sessions take place for 8 weeks in the Spring and Fall.
- LEAP! takes place at our Provincial office in Mount Pearl, NL.
- LEAP! is FREE to attend.
- Teens receive rewards for participating.
- Group members often participate in the annual Dr. Norah Browne speak-off during May.
Want to Know More?
If you are interested in joining the LEAP! Youth Leadership Program, or to talk with our program coordinator for more information, please contact us.