Ryan Brady is a high school student from Shaker Heights, Ohio, United States. She founded Hippkids, a global nonprofit at the age of 15, in order to address illiteracy among hearing impaired children and teens. Ryan is a two year member of the World Literacy Foundations Youth Ambassador Program, promoting literacy in her local community from hosting book drives and volunteering at a book bank to running a community wide public forum to increase awareness of her city’s illiteracy crisis and increase volunteerism in this area. Ryan is a HearStrong Foundation Ambassador and Hippkids has been nationally recognized by numerous organizations including the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
Hippkids: Hearing-Impaired Pen Pals, Developing Literacy Skills in Children with Hearing Impairments Worldwide
Hippkids is a global pen pal program which I founded to increase literacy and language skills in hearing-impaired children and teens worldwide. Hippkids has connected over 280 hearing-impaired children and teens in nine countries, forming a global community of friendship and support, helping to mitigate the risks this population faces, especially illiteracy, to increase educational outcomes in children with hearing loss. The program embraces reading and writing as a medium to teach children to navigate their disability regardless of access to local resources. Hippkids has been integrated into language-arts curricula in schools nationwide and has been nominated for multiple social impact awards. More importantly, Hippkids has been celebrated by parents and children alike and serves as a model program to increase literacy skills in children with disabilities.
Growing up alongside a sister with a severe hearing impairment, I witnessed the many obstacles the hearing-impaired community faced–specifically social-emotional and educational challenges that impede opportunities for independent living. Motivated to make change in this community, I founded Hippkids, a pen pal program and advocacy program designed to create a global community of friendship and support, advancing literacy skills among hearing impaired children and teens. My presentation will focus on my advocacy work in this community, starting a worldwide nonprofit pen pal program to increase literacy skills among the hearing impaired population, and my work teaching children to navigate their disability and learn from others. I will speak about my program as it blossomed from a simple idea to a worldwide pen pal network. www.hippkids.com