HIPP stands for Hearing Impaired Pen Pals. It has a double meaning, as Brady hopes these kids with hearing loss can feel “hip” and “cool” about themselves rather than being shy or ashamed.
Brady’s older sister was born with a severe-profound hearing loss and wears two cochlear implants. Watching her struggle socially inspired Brady to start the program. She also hates the fact that many kids with hearing loss are bullied and do not achieve functional literacy after high school.
Ryan realized that creating a pen pal program for kids with hearing loss would be a great way to
unite these kids globally while also helping to improve literacy. Her overall mission is to reduce the social and emotional obstacles that kids with hearing loss often face. She also wants to increase their educational outcomes.
“Her overall mission is to reduce the social and emotional obstacles that children with hearing loss often face.”
There are currently about 120 pen pals paired from six different countries and of all different ages. Once you sign up through the form on hippkids.com, your information is transferred into a database. Ryan then sends a confirmation email to prove you’re not a robot. From there, you are matched with someone of the same age/gender from the database. Brady sends each person an introduction email with his/her respective pen pal’s information and a set of instructions to get them started. From there, it’s happy pen pal-ing!
Read more: Phonak Teen Advisors: ‘I have never met someone my age who also has hearing loss’
Children, parents and teachers have raved about the program and love the idea of being connected to others like them. Brady’s sister is a big supporter and is proud of what Ryan has created. She even wishes she had this resource growing up.
Brady currently manages all facets of the program. “It is a lot of work, but it is so worth it!” she says.
Brady hopes to see the pen pal program for kids with hearing loss expand to more countries. “I hope to increase the resources that my website provides to both children and their parents,” she adds. “Although there are many resources for the hearing impaired online on different websites, nowhere are they consolidated into one resource bank. I hope to provide that information on my website. Sharing these resources is especially important because 90 percent of hearing impaired children are born to hearing parents, so parents often do not know where to find information. Creating a section on my website for this would not only provide valuable information but also strengthen my ties with the children and families involved. I would like to create a reading competition for children to make engaging in literacy more fun for young kids.”
Join the pen pal program for kids with hearing loss at HippKids.com.