Quotes from past LOFT Participants and Parents

The Leadership Opportunities for Teens (LOFT) program continues to be popular and the demand continues to increase, with AG Bell receiving more applications than there are spots available. In an effort to continue meeting that demand, in 2014 AG Bell again offered two sessions of LOFT, both in Orlando, Florida. The first session was held July 1-5, 2014 and the second session was held July 7-11, 2014. LOFT is possible due to the leadership provided by the LOFT counselors and the generosity and continued support of corporate and foundation sponsors and individual donors.

Read what this year's teens and parents said about LOFT:  

“I feel more accepted and comfortable in my skin. I wasn’t just that I was with other people like me – it was also the supportive and warm environment LOFT had. I was less hesitant and a more confident individual. I plan to take that and use it in my life.”
– LOFT Teen Participant


“The LOFT program was a stupendous experience for my daughter! In five days she made quality friends that will probably last a lifetime, positively increase her self-awareness, hone her self-advocacy skills and learn new leadership techniques. She was exposed to the latest in assistive technology, thanks to very generous program sponsors, and many of the newest communication access technologies were discussed. My daughter is a confident young leader and the LOFT program motivated her to continue to prove to others that there is nothing she cannot do!”
– LOFT Parent


2014 LOFT 3“When I was accepted to LOFT, I had no idea that the experience would have such a significant impact on my life. Before LOFT, I hardly knew any other people my age with hearing loss that I could connect with. Although I've always been independent, I couldn't help but feel isolated in a school full of hearing kids. I became so insecure about wearing my hearing aids that I could hardly remember the last time I wore them for a full week. However, at LOFT, my viewpoints on my life with hearing loss have completely shifted. I now proudly wear my hearing aids on a daily basis with no shame and have an amazing group of understanding friends to connect with. I can talk with my fellow LOFTees about anything, and I feel comfortable and confident knowing that there are kids out there in the world who are struggling just like me; but, they cope with their situation and continue to do everything to the best of their ability. Everything I experienced at LOFT inspired me in one way or another.”
– LOFT Teen Participant


“Everything about the LOFT program exceeded our expectations. Our daughter has gained confidence, is a better self-advocate, and is happier since attending the program. She has been in daily contact with the friends she made.  She told us it was the best experience of her life! We are so grateful to the people at LOFT for giving our daughter this priceless gift!”
– LOFT Parent 


“LOFT has helped me so much by building up my confidence as a leader, showing me how to be a great leader and opening more to my team mates, friends, and family.”
– LOFT Teen Participant


“Our son has never really been in a group where everyone understands how he feels being hearing impaired. His life is one of adapting to others every day. LOFT was a time for him to belong and be in a supportive loving community that gave him a new normal. This experience will always be with him and he will always belong.”
– LOFT Parent


“As a group, we created our own little community—if one person falls, the others will be there to help push him up. What I love most about LOFT is that I brought home memories of many motivational people with inspiring dreams that will help me go through life knowing all of us can be the difference that the world needs.”
– LOFT Teen Participant


“The connections our daughter made with the counselors and the other teens are so important. She finally feels there is a community that she can be a part of, as a peer, a mentee, and someday as a mentor. She now knows that she wants those connections!”
– LOFT Parent


“My LOFT experience completely exceeded my expectations. While I am an outgoing person and love meeting new people, I have never felt the amazing sense of belonging that I did at LOFT. It was wonderful connecting with other kids and adults who have had similar experiences, and I know the relationships I formed will last a very long time.”
– LOFT Teen Participant


“I have thought often over the past week of ways to thank you for your work and to tell you of the impact LOFT had on my son. He returned to us a more confident teen with lively stories of leadership activities, fun experiences and new friends. The "yearbook" and resource/activity binder have proven very helpful for him to share with us more about what he gained. My son’s perspective was reshaped at LOFT by students from different parts of the world and by people who have not let hearing loss dictate their choices.”
– LOFT Parent


“My LOFT experience is something that I'll never forget. Before, I had never been friends with anyone who is deaf or hard of hearing, and I felt alone a lot. At LOFT, I met an amazing group of people. I have never been in an environment so comfortable, inclusive, and positive in my life. I loved it!”
– LOFT Teen Participant


“Our daughter has never had a chance to be in a group of kids with similar hearing loss. I think the best part of LOFT for her was the chance to meet other teens and counselors and learn from them. She also enjoyed all of the team building games and told me that she “felt so good when her team was cheering her on.” The full immersion effect that the program achieves by being a multi-day sleep-over program also allowed her to gain some independence and form strong friendships.”
– LOFT Parent


“I’m used to being a leader in my school and community, and I was kind of surprised to realize that there are other hearing impaired leaders my age – it was so neat! I've always been encouraged to be an advocate and a leader, but without realizing it, I had begun to lose the urge to strive in that area. LOFT had rejuvenated me to once again be independent. It was so amazing to meet these profound individuals who shared similar yet different stories.”
– LOFT Teen Participant


“My daughter is smart and does well in school. However, she tends to be shy and socially awkward with other teens that she has not known for a long time. The instant I walked in to pick her up at the end, she was a chatterbox, animated, excited to introduce her friends and was incredibly thankful for being able to participate. Although I had heard this could be life changing, I was not sure how huge the impact would be for her. It has been life changing. Her confidence in herself socially has been great. She has even started to write a book – her story of her journey with hearing loss. To say that these friendships mean a lot to her is an understatement. Thank you so much for this opportunity for her!”
– LOFT Parent


“Meeting new people with hearing loss who go through the same struggles as I do made me feel empowered. There wasn't a barrier that kept us from being able to socialize at all. It was a comfortable environment where I felt like I could share my feelings without being judged.”
– LOFT Teen Participant


“We moved to Florida from Massachusetts when my son was 5 years old. In Massachusetts, we had a great parent support group and our son was around other hearing impaired (HI) children. In Florida, he was mainstreamed and lost that vital contact with other HI children. He is an outstanding student and competitive swimmer. Yet, he was alone in a hearing world with essentially no one who knew what he was going through. Each time I received Volta Voices, I would read about the LOFT program and I knew that this was the missing piece that my son needed. He attended LOFT this July, and I can tell you that everyone has noticed the difference. He is more confident, happier, and has a strength about him that was not evident before. And, more importantly, he has new friends that he can reach out to for anything. These teens from all over the country now have a common bond and friendship that will be with them forever. That is priceless.”
– LOFT Parent


“I had a lot of fun in this program. Everyone was very inviting and kind. I don't think there was a mean or insulting comment uttered to anyone that week (except in jest). In fact, no one made fun of anyone, which is a plus, especially in discussions about self-advocacy. I couldn't imagine a week spent any better.”
– LOFT Teen Participant


“Our son gained valuable perspective. He is the only teen at his school with a moderate hearing loss. Meeting other teens and adults who accepted him easily and who live with more significant hearing loss both surprised and inspired him.”
– LOFT Parent