A Bentonville Deaf woman couldn't hear the train horn as it beeped carrying 57 passengers of the YDHAT group from Springdale to Winslow, but as the train went through the dark, pitch black tunnel with 25 children waving glow sticks and toy lights, she could hear the laughter and giggles of the children in her heart and felt overjoyed and thrilled that she had a chance to participate with the YDHAT train ride.
Pearl Jones, 93, was deaf from birth and the normal train sounds that others heard, was silent on her ears.
"I had a great time and I was happy to see the kids having fun too," she said.
Jean Hunton, 69, sign language interpreter and a CODA (Child Of Deaf Adult, daughter of Jones) said, "This was a very scenic and relaxing ride and was great for my 93-year old Deaf mother who enjoyed it very much," .
Although the ride was for young D/HH children and their families, YDHAT (Young Deaf & Hard of Hearing Awareness Team) try to focus on inclusion and integration activities for D/HH youth and friends by developing activities for others to join.
The train ride consisted of other adults with hearing loss, families that did not have children with hearing loss, University of Arkansas students, and staff, school interpreters, and friends.
"We really enjoyed our experience on the train. The best part was watching all the kids having a good time especially in the tunnel with all the glow sticks, said Jason & Shelly Cox, and Kevin & Camille Tietz, school & community interpreters.
Before the train ride, Kendree Kilsch, mother of 3-year old hard of hearing child said, "I wish Kylee knew more children her age with hearing aids. I am looking forward to connecting with other parents on the train ride."
There were eight children with hearing loss on board the train ranging in ages 1 to 12 years old.
Leron Jackson, a 5-year old hard of hearing preschooler said, "I like the train ride when we go through the tunnel."
"I like the train and the food. When it gets dark, we light up the glow sticks and it makes everything light up, said Xailyn, age 6.
Although, it was somewhat difficult for most parents to connect and talk on the train, the children manage to make new friends.
Plus, I didn't anticipate the correct budget that is required in order to sponsor all the children. It wouldn't be fair to sponsor a few children and not all of them. I was able to raise $345 total, but $595 was needed to sponsor all 48 kids (25x$10 and 23x$15), plus extra was needed for the tunnel toy lights, glow sticks and snacks. The toy lights on average were $4.50 each and for 48 kids, that would be $216 by itself.
Furthermore, we had a BIG INCREASE from last year. In 2013, our Winslow ride had 16 people compared to 57 people this year. And the Vanburen ride in 2013 had only 6 people compared to 42 people this year.
(Check out the 2013 Train Ride Blog here: http://ydhateam.blogspot.com/2013/05/ydhat-train-ride-success.html )
That says a lot!!! We were able to reach more families and children with not only hearing loss, but other disabilities as well.
Maybe, next year, we can plan better and have a big budget prepared ahead of time for a larger group of kids.
The children will take the toy lights back home as a keepsake. I couldn't afford all this on my own. Thanks to all those that helped.
The kids had fun and that's all that matters. And the parents, too :)
I have already completed another train ride last Saturday, May 10 from 8am-5pm as YDHAT departed to Vanburen.
Stay tuned to another YDHAT update regarding the May 10 Train Ride!
Here is a link below to the train ride photos on Sunday May 4, 2014.
All sponsors who assisted with the May 4 and May 10 train rides are listed below and will also be listed on the next May 10, 2014 updated article.
THANK YOU TO OUR PARTICIPATING SPONSORS
With your help, a total of 99 people were able to attend on both train rides of May 4 & May 10. They were able to receive glow sticks and snacks, and our young people each received a gift bag with toy lights, glow sticks, small party toys, candies and more.
Gold Sponsors: $31-$50
SPECIALITY HEARING INSTRUMENTS
Silver Sponsors: $21-$30
NORTHWEST ARKANSAS ASSOCIATION FOR THE DEAF
RHONDA HOLMES-THE WORD DIET
DEAF UNITED ORGANIZATION
Bronze Sponsors: $10-$20
UMOJA SOUL PUBLICATIONS
ELIZABETH BOWDEN, FARRIS MEMORIAL ENT
KRISTI HARBISON, SPEECH PATHOLIGIST
MARY WENKUS-DUNLAP, SCHOOL INTERPRETER
STACY HARPER, XTREME ACHIEVERS
YDHAT Train Ride Quotes
"I really enjoyed the train excursion. The children that came on the trip really enjoyed the trip. I think Leora did a fantastic job with getting the trip plans together."- Dahlia Ashford
"What a fun experience! Laney and I have had so much fun riding the train with YDHAT! It was such a well organized outing with glow sticks & light up toys galore to make the tunnel and ride such a memorable experience. So glad we got to be part of it."-Jennie Van Es
"Our First train ride is an absolute fun! Our most favorite part is going under the tunnel. We can't wait for our next train ride next year. Thank you Ms. Leora for organizing this."-The Renfro Family
"My first time and I really enjoyed it. My grandson love it so I guess I will do it again. Thank you, Ms. Jackson." -R. Lopez
"This was our first time and we had a blast. Melanie, 4 and Travies, 5 were glowing when they laid eyes on the train. Very relaxing for adults too. Thanks, Ms. Leora."-Omeshia Clark
"I loved the train ride! The conductors were very entertaining. I would like to do this again real soon. Thanks again for a very nice experience."-Shirlene Orr
"This was a unique experience. I had a lot of fun! I'm 46 years old and had never ridden a train before. We enjoyed the conductors too :) Thanks for a great ride!"-Mike Selby
"It feels good! I've never been on a train ride like this. I like the tunnel best of all. It was Awesome!"-Trinity, 6
"I liked watching the beautiful dogwood trees. It was a different perspective. I enjoyed the rocking back and forth on the train. I didn't like the train smell very much."-Anonymous
"It went very well! I like it a lot!"-Tiara, 10