Evans, WV woman and her daughter spread awareness about deafness - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Evans, WV woman and her daughter spread awareness about living with deafness

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Franki Harrah (left) and her mom Maria Harrah (right). Franki Harrah (left) and her mom Maria Harrah (right).

A young girl from Evans, WV who was born without hearing and her mother are on a mission to make life better for kids who are deaf.

It is a struggle they said can be made easier with education and compassion.

You wouldn't know by watching but Maria Harrah hasn't had much experience speaking in front of school groups. But she helped an organization called West Virginia Heart and Hands, by leading a game of Jeopardy Tuesday during an assembly at Shoals Elementary.  All of the questions were geared toward helping students understand the challenges of a life without hearing.

"I guess it was my excitement, my enthusiasm," Harrah joked.  The Heart and Hand organization helps provide support for parents of deaf children.

Maria's daughter Franki used to attend school at Shoals Elementary. She is now a student at Ripley Middle School.

"I just want to tell them that deaf people are the same, not different. The only difference is that we can't hear. But we can be friends with anybody," Franki Harrah signed.

Franki Harrah hopes that assemblies like the one at Shoals Tuesday will show students how to better communicate with children who are deaf.

"It is a little tough at first," she said about moving on to middle school. "But then everybody made me feel like I fit in."

Both mom and daughter are hoping their story will make a difference.
"There are times especially when you first learn that your child is deaf that you feel alone and you feel like it is you against the world," Maria Harrah explained. "But when I met other parents I learned there are other people who go through the same challenges."

To find out more about West Virginia Hands and Voices just follow the link provided.