I went on a canyoning trip in Brazil a few years ago which included a variety of active pursuits such as rappelling down waterfalls, trekking through canyons, and ziplining across landscapes.  When it came time for our group to rappel down a large waterfall, I went to the edge of the falls, looked down and realized that I was in for a big challenge.

Not only was it the first time I had ever done something like this, I was going to have to do it without any help.  You see, the plan was for our guide to coach us from the top of the falls through a bull horn as we went down one by one.  Unfortunately, my hearing aids, are not waterproof. So, I was going to have to take them off and go down this beast without the benefit of any coaching support.

So I took our guide aside and explained the situation to him.  “I can do this Pablo, but you need to tell me every single thing I need to know about rappelling before I go.”

He raised his eyebrows in concern, paused in thought for a second and then grabbed my arm and said, “Ok, I teach you.” 

So while my friends were enjoying a leisurely lunch and swim before our adventure, Pablo gave me a crash course in Rappeling Waterfalls 101.  He strapped my rope-line to a tree on the side of a hill and we walked through all the steps involved together.

When it came time for me to do the real thing, I stashed my hearing aids into the dry pack and edged to the top of the waterfall. Took a deep breath, looked at Pablo who gave me a thumbs up, looked at my friends who smiled nervously in concern. 

With my heart pounding and tears in the back of my eyes…I took the first leap down.

It was slippery as heck and the water was rushing into me like you cannot believe….but I told myself not to panic and to remember the tricks Pablo taught me.  He had been a great teacher because all his advice worked exactly the way it was supposed to. 

I edged down the falls in complete silence, repeating Pablo’s words in my head.  As I neared the bottom, a big feeling of relief and accomplishment washed over me and in a moment of cocky confidence, I took a little leap to reach the base of the falls. Thing is, I forgot how slippery those rocks were and instantly crashed right smack on my behind.  A bit of humility never hurt anyone, right?

I share this story with you because it shows that with advanced preparation and a solid foundation, most life challenges can be met and overcome. 

Pablo’s crash course gave me the tools and confidence that I needed to get down this waterfall.  In a similar way, the early intervention guidance and training I received early in my life gave me the foundation – the language acumen, communication skills, and the confidence – that I needed to overcome a profound hearing loss to succeed in our hearing world. 

And that is why we do what we do at the Global Foundation For Children With Hearing Loss.  We train professionals and families about how to help the youngest members of their societies make use of hearing aids and cochlear implants and lay the foundation for listening and spoken language so they too can overcome any waterfalls that may come their way and reach their full potential.