2015 Advocate Leadership Workshop Recap: Getting Together to Take Bone Anchored Hearing Advocacy to the Next Level

Each year, we ask our community members to bring their passion and ideas to the table for an in-person weekend of inspiration, connection and fun. This year, we got together to discuss and create an action plan around how we can collectively take our efforts to the next level.

Ponto users applied to attend the Advocate Leadership Workshop back in July, and for the weekend of September 18-20 we got together at the Oticon Medical U.S. headquarters in Somerset, New Jersey.

During the workshop, advocates had the opportunity to get more information on the most powerful bone anchored hearing technology and talk about addressing the challenges of bone conductive amplification with Tove Rosenbom, Oticon Medical’s senior director of clinical research and training, who came to the meeting all the way from Denmark.

To get the content that Tove covered, get our Informed Decisions guide here.

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Click here to see more photos from the weekend.

“Attending the Advocacy Workshop weekend is always an educational experience. Every time I attend, I learn something new and valuable that not only helps me help my daughter with her Ponto Plus, but also helps me help others with Ponto models when they ask questions. Thank you Oticon Medical for helping us be educated and informed advocates for others with hearing loss.” -Melissa Tumblin, Founder of Ear Community

We also had two guest speakers who have launched their own incredible advocacy initiatives join us to share their stories—Alexandra Jackman and Bob Heugle. Alex and Bob both advocate for their own passions, so they were able to give us an outside perspective of how they’ve put those passions to work in their respective communities.

“The information provided will not only be valuable to myself but others who are considering a bone anchored hearing system. It was wonderful to connect with others who truly understand hearing loss and it’s implications. This was a very memorable and inspiring weekend with a great beginning of our advocacy efforts for the future as it has sparked the fire of helping others to have access to better hearing.” -Rebecca Davenport

Alexandra Jackman is a 16 year old Autism Advocate and the writer and director of the documentary, A Teen’s Guide to Understanding and Communicating with People with Autism. Alex began working with special needs children when she was 10-years-old and has received many honors for her efforts. Alex was also named a 2015 Hasbro Community Action Hero for her autism advocacy efforts. Her film, “A Teen’s Guide Autism” has been recognized at film festivals around the world. It has been honored with “Best Documentary” at the Jersey Shore Short Film Festival, the “Best Youth Short Documentary” at the Harlem International Film Festival, “Best Student Film” and the Audience Choice Award at the First Glance International Film Festival.

“This weekend was a truly memorable experience that will stay with me a long time! I learned a ton of valuable information that I can’t wait to apply and pass along to others. It’s especially touching to hear from others who have something so important in common with me. I loved every second of it!” -Katie Maslar

Our other guest speaker, Bob Heugle is the founder and Executive Director of the Frances Foundation for Kids Fighting Cancer, Inc. The Frances Foundation has a focused, devoted commitment to bring smiles to kids fighting cancer. Bob, who is also a lawyer, dedicates his time and passion to the Foundation, which strives to alleviate a child’s pain and suffering with a special gift, a special gesture, or even a few special moments. The Foundation also provides financial assistance to impoverished families desperately needing help due to their child’s fight again cancer. In 2009, Bob was honored as the “Humanitarian of the Year” by the Holmdel Kiwanis Foundation, Inc. Bob was the recipient of the Western Monmouth Chamber of Commerce’s 2011 Circle of Excellence Chairman’s Award, and he is the 2012 Monmouth-Ocean Development Council’s Silver Gull Community Service Award recipient.

“I felt for the first time I finally found a family that understands what my challenges are and I felt a real connection with the staff and other advocates. Life long friendships truly grateful.” -Johnny Biggs

After learning from our guest speakers and their initiatives, the group had the opportunity to put that inspiration into practice. We split up into groups to learn and use today’s tools for advocacy efforts. One group, inspired by Alex, made a video completely shot with iPhones and edited together with iMovie (get some great, simple video tips here). Another group used Canva (you can learn how to use Canva here) to create designed social media posts. A team also got together and created a template for localized, regular meet ups for people with hearing loss and an interest in bone anchored hearing systems.

“This weekend serves to educate and inspire. Anthony leaves with a smile on his face and we leave better able to advocate for his needs. The stories of our fellow advocates inform our work and reignite our souls!” -Christina D’Allesandro

The whole crew had access to the Oticon Medical team throughout the event, including a group of our Audiologists. And, we had some fun too as we made our way to New York City on Saturday evening for a dinner boat cruise with the best views of Manhattan and an up-close visit with the Statue of Liberty.

This weekend was was my first and it gave me a chance to meet a team that truly cares. Everyone was generous with their time and I received information to help me advocate for people looking for answers like I was. How great to meet people who understand what life with hearing loss is like and who I only knew from meeting online. -Cindy Mansfield

If you’re interested in attending our next Patient Advocacy Workshop, be sure to start your advocacy efforts now. To start, learn more about Canva and shooting video. Connect with us and post on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and answer as many questions in online forums and groups as possible. We’re here to support you along the way!

If you’re still learning about the Ponto, and you’d like to speak to one of our advocates, click the button below and let us know, we’d be happy to connect you!

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