Anywhere out in the sunshine or with saltwater in her hair is 13-year-old Emily’s self-declared happy place.
From surfing with her friends and sisters, to Nippers at the local lifesaving club, to Netball with her school team at Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar School, to bushwalking with her family – even amidst pandemic lockdowns, it’s a full life for the active Year Seven student.
Crediting physical education as one of her favourite school subjects therefore comes as no surprise, but it’s not only in the great outdoors where Emily shines.
For the past two years Emily has also been named Dux of her grade, and in 2018 took out the coveted Principal’s Award for all-round excellence across academics, sport and culture.
Profoundly deaf since birth, Emily was nine months old when she had her first cochlear implant surgery, and received her second implant around her first birthday. Emily then underwent intensive speech therapy at Hear and Say’s Brisbane centre, before the family moved to the Gold Coast where they continue to visit for services.
“Being able to hear and speak makes a massive difference to every area of my life,” said Emily.
“It means I can communicate with everybody, participate in lots of team sports and hear the umpires. I can swim and hear everyone while we are in the pool or at the beach thanks to my cochlear implant’s waterproof accessories. I can hear my teachers in the classroom and engage with activities, and tell my dog, Barney to stop when he is barking!
“It is so cool to have this superpower, and my friends and family often forget that I have cochlear implants because I do everything that they do.”
Emily’s mum, Jane added: “It’s Emily’s ‘normal’ to hear and speak. She’s amazingly resilient and knows no different – if only we’d written down all the stories of her ‘cochlear implants adventures’ over the years! Just recently, Emily was surfing and her implant (in an aqua cover) got lost in the ocean. It was posted all over local social media, and incredibly it was found by a lovely family washed up on the beach the next day!”
Reflecting on her future goals, Emily’s current plan is to become a vet or a crime scene investigator when she leaves school. But with plenty of surfing skills to master, books to read and sports to play, there’s lots to keep her busy in the meantime.