The first thing I said as I walked out of the ENT/Audiologist's office the day I found out Brook couldn't hear well with her little 9 month old ears, was "Let me call my peeps." I had already established my 'people' which basically consisted of my family and our early intervention team that my son had just graduated from when he turned 3.
Now my people consist of hundreds and I mean hundreds of people, mostly parents I see on the internet. Most of us NEED our peeps. When we are worried, or overwhelmed, or even when we are ecstatic over a new sound our hearing impaired child has learned after months of practice...we need our peeps.
I've watched in envy as many parents have recently joined parent mentoring groups from all over, going to training sessions, getting expenses reimbursed such as mileage, etc. We need that here! One of my biggest issues with mentoring in my own state is I'm limited to my computer basically. I can't afford to gas up my car and drive a couple of hours round trip to meet up with families very often, though I've done it from time to time anyway. So I had an idea....
I took a chance and emailed our ENT and audiologist (who are on the receiving end of most of my ideas *smile* ) and basically told them I wanted Alabama to have a mentoring program too, outlined what some of the other programs offered, and they emailed me back saying they liked the idea. So I worked with the audiologist who is over the HEAR Center over the next few weeks reading programs, talking about what I felt would work for our state, and we decided to just develop our own program *smile*.
So, the next thing I know, she's figured out how we can get the basic funding to start us off. She and I spoke back and forth a couple of times with the lady over our newborn hearing screening program for our state and together they got us a small grant. *smile*
Now, what to call it, hmmm. I told her I wanted to call it PEEPs so people could say, "Let me call my PEEPs," just like I did a few years ago but I couldn't come up w/that final E word...but she could. And so I introduce PEEPs.
We come with our own name tags and everything! We can get reimbursed for our mileage when we are out volunteering our time and we we can even do small events to get our families together from time to time. But most importantly, we will work closely with all agencies, from Early Intervention, ENTs, CRS, teachers who work with hearing impaired kids, anyone who will have us, and utilize us, we are there! For this year, we are running a crew of five but hope to expand one day should we acquire the funds.
So May 11, will be our big training day. We are asking professionals such as the genetics dept, a teacher for the hearing impaired, audiologists, etc. to come and give us valuable information we can share with families across the state. We will keep close with our various professionals gathering pertinent information...general information, we can use and share with families, and serve families from across the state who need information and resources, need camaraderie, need some PEEPs. We'll also help and aid the other hard working volunteers around the state, giving them the resources and support they need to continue their efforts as well. And all this works both ways, we intend on helping the professionals understand the parent-side of things just as much as we do educating parents. *smile*
We now have our own blog HERE. We still have two more PEEPs to put up, hopefully today or tomorrow. I also wrote about the group on Bama Ears.
And of course we all have our own agendas. One of us wants to get more info to docs and hospitals, one wants more info in the schools, and I'm sure together, we'll all make it happen. I also believe that uniting all these parents from the great state of AL, regardless of the services they have chosen, and regardless of the school they attend, we can all accomplish even more...
um, like getting insurance to cover hearing aids...just an idea.