Friday, August 08, 2008

Cowboys Cheerleaders Show Campers New MovesDance Pros Give Repeat Performance for Group of Kids With Cochlear Implants 

Posted by Sasha at 6:09 PM ET

Dance Pros Give Repeat Performance for Group of Kids With Cochlear Implants
UT Dallas News Center
Aug. 8, 2008

For 60 hearing-impaired children, it was a chance to dance with some true stars – the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.

For the second consecutive year, the world-famous cheerleaders gave dance lessons this summer to kids attending the Crystal Charity Ball Cochlear Implant Summer Listening Camp.

The children age 3 to 11 attended the 13th annual camp, held July 28-Aug. 1 at Bill Bates Cowboy Ranch in Celina, Texas.

The camp was coordinated by UT Dallas’ Callier Center for Communication Disorders and sponsored by the Dallas Cochlear Implant Program (DCIP), of which the Callier Center is a member.

DCIP is a collaboration between UT Dallas, UT Southwestern Medical Center and Children’s Medical Center.

Children from all over the state, as well as from Louisiana and Oklahoma, traveled to North Texas for the camp.

Cristian, 9, of Houston has enjoyed listening and moving to music since receiving her cochlear implants six years ago. “When I don’t wear my implants, I can’t hear anything,” she said. “But when I wear them, I hear the music and dance a lot better.”

The camp gives children practice in listening, speech and language skills but also mixes in such traditional camp activities as hayrides, waterslides and music classes.

Justin, 6, of Waco enjoyed the outdoor activities – one in particular. “I like fishing the most,” Justin said. “I caught a fish, but it was little.”

The campers got the chance to be with other children who have cochlear implants. Family members also had the opportunity to share information.

“Our son is the only kid in his kindergarten class – and entire school for that matter – who is hearing-impaired,” said a camper’s parent. “So for him to see that he’s not the only one with these amazing and special little devices is a great thing about the camp.”

The camp is supervised by clinical staff members from the cochlear implant program at the Callier Center. Graduate students enrolled in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences’ speech-language pathology and audiology programs serve as camp counselors or “buddies” as they are called at camp.

Additionally, researchers from the DCIP conducted some studies and participated throughout the week.

“It is truly amazing to watch children who have profound hearing losses and wear cochlear implants dance and move to the beat with the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders,” said Melissa Sweeney, cochlear implant program manager. “With the support of the Crystal Charity Ball, we are able to provide the best camp experience possible for these incredible kids.”

Each year, the children leave camp with new friends and new experiences. This year, they also walked away with a little more – specifically, some new dance moves and an autographed photo of the cheerleaders.

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