In late summer of 2020, as school districts began planning for openings, CHHA-Calgary reached out to all schools to create awareness of My Access Masks and illustrated how they would enable lipreading in the classroom.
The Calgary Catholic School District shared that it would not be able to equip teachers and support staff with My Access Masks to foster learning for 150 students with hearing loss or who are deaf.
CHHA-Calgary was asked to donate 500 My Access Masks as each student would interface with four to five teachers. While conversations were underway with the School District, CHHA national had just finalized the partnership with Como Foundation for My Access Masks.
Due to the short timelines involved, it was a daunting prospect to raise funds as Alberta is in the midst of an economic downturn, and non-profit organizations such as ours are adversely affected by the pandemic. We first reached out to our loyal contributors who have always supported us in the past. I also contacted members and past members as well as friends of CHHA-Calgary. Key supporters were Alberta Hands and Voices and Rotary Challenger Park as well as a few individual members and friends. Members and community were very supportive of the initiative as they have first-hand experience of the barriers presented by the Calgary bylaw to wear masks.
With the team’s efforts, CHHA-Calgary connected with members and supporters to raised $7,500. The community rose to the challenge with the result that contributions are on track to cover the full cost of masks purchased from The Como Foundation.
The multiplier effect of donations translates into increased advocacy and education by CHHA national as it benefits from a small percentage of mask sales from the Foundation. CHHA-Calgary, which has been impacted by the downturn in the Alberta economy, is able to support critical needs. Students who are hard of hearing will have a greater chance of success in their classrooms this Fall. With My Access Masks, students with hearing loss will not be rendered invisible.
CHHA-Calgary is currently reaching out to rural schools in Alberta to ensure that students who are hard of hearing or deaf have access to My Access Masks.
CHHA-Calgary thanks Karen Munro for her vision of My Access Masks for all students in Calgary, and CHHA national and the Como Foundation for making My Access Masks affordable and accessible.