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Keeping connected during lockdown

Published Date: 11 Jun 2020

Child planting a flower

I’m Chair of my local deaf children’s society – KDCS. When lockdown began, me and my committee members were very concerned about our members. Lockdown is a difficult situation for everyone, but if you’re a child with hearing loss, then even more so. 

I was very conscious that many of our deaf children who enjoy being part of a deaf community within their unit at school or with us in the local group, may feel a true sense of loss as their interaction with other deaf children was stopped overnight. The impact on a deaf child’s mental health from isolation is also potentially significant. 

Side by side images of a piece of paper with instructions for growing sunflowers and a photo of a young boy in front of a plant pot

KDCS are fortunate to receive a small pot of funding from our local authority, Kent County Council. Normally this money is used to hold activities and events for deaf children in Kent. We were due to hold our annual Easter event, getting a steam train to a country house which has amazing gardens and adventure playgrounds. As it wasn’t possible to hold this event, we still wanted to brighten the lives of the deaf children in KDCS. So we came up with our sunflower project. 

Children with empty plant pots

We sent all of our members a gift. We settled on the idea of a sunflower kit, something for the children to do with their parents, to nurture and watch grow. With sunflowers being a symbol of hidden disability, it felt like the perfect present.

We know that a number of deaf children use sign language to communicate but live within hearing families where maybe only one other member of the family has learnt to sign. We felt a visual and fun project was needed and the sunflowers appear to have answered that (or begun to at least!)

Children planting and watering flowers

We wanted to give the deaf children their own project too, one that they could involve the rest of the family in. We wanted to give them an ongoing talking point and allow them to have ownership of something. Obviously the project allowed our member deaf children to learn a little more about the life of a plant, from seed to flower too. 

Children with flower shoots

The sunflowers will give the children something to focus on throughout the summer. They are such fun flowers and beautiful too. Our members are continuously measuring the height of their sunflowers so we’re also holding a competition for the tallest sunflower. Seeds from the flower head can even be harvested and eaten in the summer or fed to hamsters and rabbits or garden birds. They are also brilliant to draw for the older children who may enjoy art activities. 

Boy with sunflower shoots

We’re very grateful to our administrator Emma, who pulled individual kits together (including seeds, plant pot, compost etc.) and posted them out to 100 members. The response and gratitude has been heart-warming and ongoing!

Children with sunflowers 

Here’s some of the feedback from our members:

"Thank you KDCS! Sunflowers are bound to be popping up all over Kent, bringing smiles into many homes including mine!”

"Thank you - such a wonderful gesture!!!”

"Would like to thank KDCS for a lovely surprise in the post it put a wonderful smile on the children’s faces, what an amazing gift. Thank you.”

"An absolutely brilliant and thoughtful idea.”

"What an amazing, kind and thoughtful idea, it made our day!! THANK YOU."

Boy growing a sunflower

Louise

Louise, mum to Mason, Evan and Aurelia (and Boots the dog, the chickens and the tortoises). Louise has been Chair of Kent Deaf Children's Society (KDCS) for 10 years. Mason (14) is a deaf British Sign Language user and also has ASD and SLACN. Louise has learnt so much on her journey with Mason and she is incredibly proud of the young, determined, kind and friendly man he has become.