MARCH 2-5, 2021

(Virtually the same conference, without elevators, airplane tickets, or hotel room keys)


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Fostering Joy Project (Amy Szarkowski, Candace Lindow-Davies, Jennifer Clark)

We humbly nominate The Fostering Joy Project for the 2021 Antonia Brancia Maxon Award.

    We would like to honor The Fostering Joy Project founding and current members:
  • Amy Szarkowski, Psychologist, Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School;
  • Candace Lindow-Davies, Director of Outreach, Hands & Voices HQ;
  • Jennifer Clark, Early Intervention Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Specialist, Hawaii Department of Health Early Intervention
  • (with special thanks to other founding and current committee members: Marilyn Sass-Lehrer, Sarah Honigfeld, Nichole Hutchinson, Rashoun Davis, Cora Shahid, Beth Jones, Karen Putz, and Linda Lytle).

Janet DesGeorges, as a founding member adds, "This project began as a conversation, which led to an action plan, and ultimately a Project that includes an interdisciplinary committee of researchers, parents, EHDI program stakeholders and Deaf/HH adults from all over the country. We believe this project would honor the memory of Dr. Maxon and her contributions to the EHDI community."

This project began when several members of the group above recognized the need to impact the conversations between families with children who are deaf or hard of hearing and professionals. It was the belief of this founding group that much of what parents/caregivers experience in their conversations with professionals is focused on topics such as "delays in the child's development," or "identifying areas of need," and even on "constantly thinking about communication." Yet, there is much to be said for parents simply enjoying their babies, encouraging the establishment of strong attachment between children and their caregivers, and enriching the social connection of the child to those in their world. With an interest to help parents focus attention to this area, several professionals and parents in the field of deafness came together and created what is now called the "Fostering Joy" Project. Fostering Joy is the intentional practice of looking for and encouraging joyful moments between caregivers and their child who is deaf or hard of hearing. Fostering Joy quickly became a movement! The concept also inspires professionals who want opportunities to support in finding joy with their child.

Stephanie Olson, who inspired this nomination says that when EHDI systems and providers acknowledge the joy that children bring into their families a positive impact may be seen in follow up, early intervention services, outcomes, and data. Children are going to take their cues from families and providers who use of joy will enhance their health and wellbeing.

The Fostering Joy Project uses multiple tools and resources for families and professionals to share its mission. The Family Tip Sheet include translations in Spanish, Somali, French, Italian, Urdu, Hmong, Thai, Japanese and more.

In a year that has been particularly tough for all, The Fostering Joy Project includes a Facebook page with over 300 family members who can find a space to celebrate their journey of raising a child who is Deaf/Hard of hearing. Thank you!