Imagine a world where everybody was represented equally. Where the children of the future embrace their differences rather than ignore them or forget about them. I’m Lauren Honold, and that’s my dream. I know I’m not the only deaf kid in the world. So where is the media representation for us?
Ever since I was born, I’ve been hard of hearing. Although I usually go by the term “deaf”, I have a sloping (mild-moderate-severe) hearing loss in my left ear and am fully deaf in the other. I wear one hearing aid and one cochlear implant. Although I as a young child never really got to choose whether I got a hearing aid or not, at age ten I chose to have cochlear implant surgery. This was probably the best and most life-changing decision of my life, in all honesty. Hearing the high frequency noises from my right ear for the first time in my entire life was an experience I will never forget.
But I’m not just deaf- I’m also simply a normal fourteen year old kid going into high school later this year. I enjoy drawing, singing, listening to nerdy Broadway musicals, math, space, and most importantly and notably, the practice of mixing activism with traditional art.
School is definitely a highlight for me. Often it can be a really great place for me to have fun with friends. I have a pretty huge and supportive group of friends there, anyway. In fact, one of them is also hard of hearing. However, school isn’t perfect. Even for kids who can hear, it can be really difficult to understand most people during lunch period for the first time. But the experiences of having new friends and supportive teachers far outweigh the issues.
It’s mostly thanks to my family that I’m better at speech and hearing than I was when I was younger, from when they took me to get speech therapy at age nine to my surgery at age ten. My parents say that they’re extremely proud of my love of activism, humor, ability to think very deeply, and grace.
Of course, despite all this, I can’t help but always feel a bit out of place in school and society, with few famous young deaf people in the mainstream media. Peer pressure and the occasional bully sometimes made me feel almost alone among the masses, with no one to relate to.
Then, last month, I was assigned a school community service project. The sky was the limit- I could do whatever I wanted so long as it helped my town in some way. So naturally, thinking of my past experiences with bullying, I chose to create a set of posters that embraced diversity and empowered minority groups and different cultures- for example, the deaf and hard of hearing community. These posters will be distributed around the Seattle area in Washington State.
It’s mostly thanks to my family that I’m even doing this service project. Although I did not require help when it came to the art and technical bits, they provided me with the mental capacity and strength to continue on with this. If I had to ask my parents what quality I possess that they are most proud of, I would say that it would be my love of activism, humor, ability to think very deeply, and grace. That’s what I’m hoping for, anyway. Fingers crossed!
However, I’m not making this whole project my entire life. I’ve been shooting for the University of Washington for almost two years in the hope of pursuing a NASA internship (thanks to the partnership that UW and NASA have established). Although I’m only in 8th grade, it’s always good to dream for what you might have one day. One day I’ll be a scientist, an activist, an artist. There are so many things I want to be that my heart cannot set upon just one.
My hope is to provide my community with examples of strong individuals who identify as minorities. I hope that people connect with my art and my message. If they are in Seattle, they can spread my message by taking a selfie with my art and sharing it with their friends. If they aren’t local, they can find my art and share the message on social media with this hashtag: #ArtForTheStronglyDiverse. And hey, if you want to go check out my portfolio, just go follow @ArtForTheStronglyDiverse on Instagram! I’d love to connect with you online. Imagine if this goes worldwide!