Zoe Seitz at home in Cururmbin.
Zoe Seitz at home in Cururmbin. Blainey Woodham

The gift of hearing and speech

CURRUMBIN teenager Zoe Seitz is profoundly deaf - but you wouldn't know it.

Her speech is immaculate, she's flying through school, and she plays division one soccer.

But it's all because of the Hear and Say Centre who helped her become the then-youngest child in Queensland to receive a cochlear implant at just 16 months old.

The early detection and years of auditory-verbal therapy means Zoe, who turns 15 this year, can do anything she wants.

This year the Hear and Say Centre turns 20 years old, and this month marks the beginning of the Butterfly Appeal, a call for the public to support the cause by buying merchandise or making a direct donation.

Zoe knows how challenging her life would be if she was deaf, she can turn her implant on and off, which sometimes comes in handy, particularly when Mum is handing out the chores.

"The operation was life-changing," Zoe said.

"Because I got it so young my speech patterns developed normally.

"My cochlear implant has enabled me to hear everything from my favourite music to the annoying sound of my teachers whistle.

"My friends always say I should take it off while the teachers are talking at school but I never do."

It costs the Hear and Say Centre around $10,000 a year for each child until they graduate from the centre.

Zoe graduated at just five years old and now only visits the centre twice a year to have her hearing mapped.

"I am proud to be part of a community that supports the centre and keeps the doors open to all the deaf and hearing impaired children and their families," Zoe said.

"Your generous support will help provide a deaf child with the life long gift of sound and speech."

Dr Dimity Dornan, Founder and Managing Director of Hear and Say said one in every 500 children born in Queensland every year is diagnosed with hearing loss and more will acquire a progressive loss after birth.

Hear and Say is under constant demand for places with demand estimated to grow to 800 children by 2012.

You can help give a deaf child a 'Voice for Life' by supporting the Butterfly Appeal during March and April.

You can buy $3 butterfly brooches and pens and $5 butterfly charm bracelets and key/bag tags from Suncorp Bank branches, KFC outlets and other selected locations throughout Queensland or you can donate directly by phoning 07 3870 2221 or online at butterflyappeal.com.

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