Tue | Feb 18, 2020

'The blessing that is sound' - Starkey renews hope for trying parent

Published:Saturday | July 1, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Sophia Dixon having a light moment with her son, Javail Pennant, at the Chinese Benevolent Association of Jamaica on Thursday.
Three-year-old Javail Pennant at the Chinese Benevolent Association of Jamaica on Thursday.

The loving embrace often shared between Sophia Dixon and her youngest child is a testament of hope in the face of adversity.

Born three weeks premature, three-year-old Javail Pennant is afflicted with aural atresia, which has resulted in his external ear being almost completely absent.

"I have to talk extremely loud for him to hear me, so I would give anything for him to have normal hearing ability or even close," voiced Dixon while clutching her animated baby-boy.

"It's very challenging because I can't work. I have to stay home to care for him, which, of course, frustrates me at times because it takes money to care for him. I love him with all my heart and I'm more than willing. I just need a little help."

On Thursday, renewed hope for Dixon came in the form of the Starkey Hearing Foundation (SHF), which has committed to acquiring a bone conductor for Javail in an attempt to improve his hearing and, by extension, his speech.


Special hearing aid


"We can't have direct access to the ear to get the impression to form the mould, so the bone conductor, a different type of hearing aid, will convert sounds into vibrations, which are then sent through the bones of the skull directly to the inner ear," stated Tamiann Young, SHF regional coordinator for the Caribbean, while adding that the love exhibited for Javail by Dixon was nothing short of inspirational.

"When parents aren't supportive of the child's development, regardless of his limitations, that's where the challenges arise because the child doesn't get the care required to fully develop. So, for me, this battle is half won."

Javail suffers from Goldenhar Syndrome (incomplete development of the ear, nose, and soft palate), scoliosis, hernia and Bell's Palsy. His need was identified by the Digicel Foundation, the main sponsors of the event.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Digicel Foundation Dane Richardson declared that helping Javail and hundreds of other deaf and hard of hearing Jamaicans has only served to further motivate him and invigorate the foundation's mission.

"Working with persons with specials needs is a critical component of the foundation's strategy. It was a major focus of mine when I became CEO and we're always seeking to broaden the impact being made in this area. We're aiming to provide solutions for persons with disabilities to enhance their

quality of life to bring about an inclusive society."

Now enrolled at the Danny Williams School for the Deaf and Pre-school, Dixon envisions a time when her son is complication free, fully developed and a success life story to others dealt a similar hand.

"I'm nervous, but he deserves a shot at hearing and being normal. He has a very loving father also, who wants to see him develop, and we pray about it a lot. So, I believe this is a step in the right direction and I thank God for this blessing," declared the mother of three, who now awaits December with bated breath.