The Lions Changed My Life A Happy Boy Emerges Jurmel Mitchell is an inquisitive 4- year-old who loves to ride his bike, play at the park and learn all about the world around him. But not too long ago, Jurmel—known as MJ—was often uncommunicative and prone to temper tantrums. When MJ was 1 . years old, his mother, Toni Cannon- Mitchell, discovered the underlying reason for this: he was deaf. Cannon- Mitchell’s experience of locating services to help MJ was like “finding a needle in a haystack”—until she found the Lions Hearing Center of Michigan (LHC), which is supported by District 11A 1 and 11A 2 Lions. As participants in the LHC’s Deaf Children and Families Program, the Cannon-Mitchells have received a host of services including parent trainings, American Sign Language (ASL) tutoring and family retreats. MJ is now happily communicating, learning and growing, and making his mom a lot happier too. Q&A: Toni Cannon-Mitchell LION Magazine: How did you feel when you discovered MJ was deaf? Toni Cannon-Mitchell: I grieved for all the time that had passed without MJ receiving the treatment and educational assistance he needed. I was angry with myself for not knowing this for so long. And I had no clue how to raise a deaf child. LM: You had a hard time finding resources to help MJ? TCM: Yes, especially services like ASL classes and parent support groups. Fortunately, soon after I found the Lions Hearing Center of Michigan we took part in the six-week workshop for children and families. LM: How was that experience? TCM: I was so relieved to be connected with other parents going through the same journey, and MJ was able to meet other hearing-impaired children. I received guidance on how to get MJ the education he needs. I learned how to be an advocate for my son and how to teach him to be an advocate for himself. LM: It sounds like that was a big turning point. TCM: Since then, the LHC has continued to have such a major impact on our lives and connected us with resources that will last a lifetime. If it wasn’t for the free services the center has provided, MJ would not have made as much progress as he has and he might not have the bright future he has now. LM: How is MJ doing now? TCM: He’s a happy boy who is active, independent and smart. He was officially enrolled in a classroom for hearing-impaired students in January. He can communicate his numbers, colors, the alphabet and most animals. His face lights up when he signs or speaks and you understand what he’s saying. That feeling, for me, is priceless. To learn more about the Lions Hearing Center of Michigan, visit www.lhcmi.org. Lions, has your club heard from a recipient of your service or charity? Tell us about the feedback you’ve received from those whose lives you’ve changed for the better. Email a brief description to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include “Thank You” in the subject line.
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