By: Duane Blankenship | Category: Other | Issue: August 2009
Program Director Jan Pride with Tessa, one of the adorable students at Happy Hands Education Center in Tulsa.
The Happy Hands Education Center is a Christian school for children with hearing loss and communicative disorders. Since its inception in 1994, the organization has worked tirelessly to meet the educational and developmental needs of children and families affected by hearing loss, deafness and other communication disorders. Happy Hands is the only center in the state of Oklahoma that provides services to these children from birth to six years of age on a full-time basis. The center prepares them for success not only in school, but indeed, in life. No one is ever turned away from Happy Hands for financial reasons. The agency is licensed and IRS-approved with a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) status.
The 4th annual Charity Golf Tournament benefiting Happy Hands is scheduled for September 28, 2009, at MeadowBrook Country Club, located at 9300 E. 81st St. in Tulsa. Registration, a continental breakfast and the opening of the driving range all begin at 7:30 a.m. A shotgun start will be launched at 9 a.m. The tournament is a handicapped 18-hole, four-player scramble, and teams may be mixed, all female or all male. Monetary prizes will be awarded, and a buffet lunch will be served to all registered players. One hundred percent of net proceeds directly benefit the children of Happy Hands.
Throughout much of Tulsa’s rich history, the young children in our community who were deaf or had difficulty hearing were under-served or not served at all. Most were confined in a world with very little communication. Since the creation of Happy Hands in 1994, a future has been created for children with hearing loss and communication disorders, allowing them to fully participate within their families, their communities and their world.
Of the 83,000 children under age six that live in the Tulsa metropolitan area, 1,400 are affected with some degree of hearing loss. By the time they reach kindergarten, hearing children will already have a vocabulary of approximately 10,000 words. Children who are deaf, however, have a vocabulary of around 100 words. Because of such a clear disparity, Happy Hands Education Center was created to serve the needs of these children and their families and to help level the playing field. “The real key to success,” says Jan Pride, program director, “is to reach children with hearing loss in their early, early years of development to prepare them for success in school. Communication support is essential for educating children who do not hear well or at all. Teaching them to communicate makes all the difference in their lives.”
Lily has been attending Happy Hands for only a year and a half and has been a remarkably fast learner.
Happy Hands has been housed in a 1,600-square-foot residential building for the past 12 years. The Happy Hands Education Center has recently been awarded a $6,635,040 capital grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation to build a 20,628-square-foot education center to address the needs of children with hearing loss and communication disorders, ages six weeks to six years, and their families. The new center will be located at 8800 S. Garnett and is scheduled for completion in June of 2010. The new facility will increase their capacity from the current limit of 30 to up to 70 children.
Helen Keller once said, “Blindness takes people away from things, but deafness takes people away from people.” Good things are happening to great children and their families at Happy Hands. As Ms. Pride puts it, “Watch us grow!”
Call (918) 665-1200 if you are interested in talking with Happy Hands about the enrollment of a child with hearing loss or communication disorders. Call (918) 660-0855 for information about the September 28 Charity Golf Tournament. Happy Hands does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, nationality or ethnic origin.
Blankenship graduated from the University of Oklahoma and has enjoyed a lifetime career in advertising. He started his own advertising business in 1993 and enjoys creating graphic art and writing. Hobbies include hunting, fishing and pencil drawings. Duane and his wife, Janice, have been married over 50 years and are active in their church and community. He has been a contributing writer for Value News/Values Magazine since 2005.