Lydia Werth, a fourth grade student at Sunset School, likes challenges. Recently she has been able to take a challenge that life has given her and turn it into an award-winning piece of writing.
Werth took second place in a national writing contest for students with hearing impairments sponsored by Gallaudet University and Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center. She received a $75 savings bond for her essay entitled "Growing Stronger Through Helping," and is featured on the university's website, www.clerccenter.gallaudet.edu.
"I was really, really proud, of myself because I've never actually got to do one of these things before," she said about her accomplishment.
News Photo by Crystal Nelson
Lydia Werth, a fourth-grader at Sunset School, practices sign language with Anne Beyer, teacher consultant for the hearing impaired. Werth recently won second place in a writing competition for hearing impaired students between the ages of nine and 14.
Werth, who has been hard of hearing since birth, wrote about how she raked leaves for a woman who could no longer do it for herself and how her participation in bottle drives and her role in the Nutcracker ballet impacted the community. She said she chose the topic "because it was just a good thing to write about."
"Even though I'm young and hearing impaired, I can still make a difference in the community," she wrote in her essay. "A hearing impairment shouldn't be an excuse not to help people. Hearing impaired people have a lot to offer others."
Anne Beyer, teacher consultant for the hearing impaired, said Werth is fully immersed in general education and doesn't take any special education classes. Beyer thought the writing contest would be a good challenge for her.
"I knew about this contest for a couple of years and I thought it would fit Lydia perfect because Lydia is a high achiever. She's a very good student and I thought she would have a good chance being successful in it," she said.
Because Werth is learning how to advocate for herself and her needs, she has chosen to wear hearing aids and currently is learning sign language. Her friends and classmates are aware of her needs and don't get impatient if she needs them to repeat something she can't hear. They also have developed a strategy to communicate to each other when she's playing basketball.
Besides her challenge, she is like any other 10-year-old girl. She likes to sing in the children's choir at St. Paul's Lutheran Church, attend vacation Bible school, play basketball through the Thunder Bay Basketball Association, and especially dance.
"I kind of want to be a dancer when I grow up because I feel like I put a lot of effort in it," said.
In the meantime, her savings bond will go toward her college education.