Eighteen year old Rayan was born hearing but became profoundly deaf as a five year old girl, losing her ability to communicate with her hearing family. She received cochlear implants at the age of six, shortly after she arrived in Australia. Rayan needed to relearn how to communicate with her family – trying to learn English and Australian Sign Language (Auslan) at the same time. After a couple of years, Rayan and her family moved to a country town where she has been the only deaf student at her school.
Over the past couple of years, Rayan has attended two of Deaf Children Australia’s Secondary School Sports Days which bring together hundreds of deaf and hard of hearing students from across Victoria to try out different sports through professional coaching clinics. In January 2018, Rayan had the chance to play with a deaf netball team for the first time at the Australian Deaf Games in Albury/Wodonga. Rayan said she valued the experience because,
“It was really good to see deaf people having strong communication with each other and it helped me to gain confidence when around other deaf people.”
When Rayan learnt of the National Deaf Netball Club Championships in Queensland, she really wanted to be part of the event but she and her family didn’t have enough money for her to go. Rayan decided to apply to DCA for a Youth Grant and after she was successful, everything started to fall into place.
Rayan shared in her Youth Grant application that she felt isolated because she didn’t know other deaf people her age. She said she wanted to attend the Netball Championships in September 2018 because, “I will make more deaf friends and feel less isolated. There are six children in my family so my parents, who work full time, do not have the time or money to take me to deaf activities. I find it very hard to meet other deaf people.”
“I’m almost always in the hearing community because I am the only deaf girl in my school in country Victoria.”
Rayan was grateful for the support of Marnie and her teacher Janice for organising flights and accommodation and for Marnie accompanying her.
Rayan said of the championship, “There were about 100 Deaf people from all over Australia. Some of them played and and some only watched. At the start of the game I felt shy and nervous but while playing netball I started to feel more confident and it felt good. I was very determined to win the games but unfortunately my Victorian team lost all games for the women team and only won one game for the mixed team. I met other Deaf people and it was really good to communicate with them. It really helps me to gain my confidence and be able to recognise new signs that I haven’t learn before.”
With additional funding from Tye Recreation Fund, Rayan was able to extend her trip to Queensland by three days to stay with Marnie and her new friends Tamara and Jess. This was Rayan’s first holiday and a great opportunity to bond with other deaf people.
Of this friendship, Rayan said, “Marnie, Tamara and Jess made me feel like I belong to the Deaf community like as a family. I felt great because I enjoyed laughing with them when they do silly things and I really had a great time.”
“They helped me to think deeply how I feel about being Deaf. “
“I’m almost always in the hearing community because I am the only deaf girl in my school in country Victoria. I decided I will join the Deaf community activities to get more experience when I am older. Thank you DCA for allowing me this wonderful opportunity to be with Deaf people and be able to have more experience in the Deaf Community.”
Just recently, Rayan told us about her bigger dream:
“In the future, I would like to become an education support worker. I love helping kids with disabilities, trying to encourage them to do what they love to do. I also want to encourage kids with disabilities to be involved in sports. It doesn’t matter if they can’t play sports or they can play, I’m trying to get them more experience in sports.”