Poster girl Molly raising awarness about communication barriers

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Grangemore girl Molly Bradley was taking being the star attraction at the launch of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists’ (RCSLT) ‘My Journey My Voice’ exhibition at the Millennium Forum in her stride when the Journal caught up with her and her proud mum Caitríona on Wednesday.

Molly was born profoundly deaf, but you wouldn’t know it.

Thanks to a cochlear implant and the work of her speech and language therapists, the thirteen-year-old St Mary’s College girl is an inspiration to anyone who’s been frustrated through physical barriers to their communication abilities such as deafness.

Once unable to talk, so inhibitive were her hearing difficulties, Molly is now able to speak perfectly.

Last year she was chosen as one of the poster girls for the ‘My Journey My Voice’ exhibition, which will run at the Forum until October 27.

And flustered she’s not.

“It’s great. I’m enjoying it. “You see at the start I was a bit nervous but I enjoy chatting now and I’m enjoying the challenge,” she said.

And what about getting her photograph taken as the high-profile face of the RCSLT campaign in Derry?

“Well, it was taken last year, I was very young then, I was like 12, I think, but I’m happy with it,” she said.

Proud mum Caitríona said Molly was especially selected by her therapists due to the exponential progress she has made over recent years.

“She was chosen out of a case load by her speech and language therapists,” said Caitríona.

“I think when Molly was a wee bit younger she was slowly progressing but all of a sudden there was a burst of development and I think her therapists were keen to showcase how well she’s done,” she said.

“The speech and language therapists have been excellent working over the years.

“She doesn’t need any speech and language therapy, at the moment, she’s doing so well,” said Caitríona.

Molly’s currently enjoying the beginning of second year at St Mary’s, where her favourite subjects are history, home economics and PE.

Of course, she had the day off on Wednesday.

“It’s been great. I’ve had no problems with anything, at the school, you know. I just enjoy being with my friends and doing my favourite subjects, history, HE and PE.”

Mum Caitríona says the school’s been brilliant.

“The school have been fabulous. She has a classroom assistant and she is just fabulous. She’s followed her on from first year into second year now, that consistency really helps,” she said.

Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, launching the exhibition, said: “I am proud to support the ‘My Journey My Voice’ exhibition which is raising awareness and understanding about the speech, language and communications difficulties which people can face, and the impact it has on their daily lives.

“Almost 30,000 people here are listed as living with a long-term communication difficulty so this is a challenge many people and families are faced with. I can’t begin to imagine how challenging and potentially frustrating your day would be.

“The message of ‘My Journey My Voice’ ensures people with these specific needs are recognised and supported in public services. This project encourages people with a communication disability to participate more fully in public life.”

The exhibition is a collaboration between RCSLT and Belfast photographer.

Visitors are able to view their portraits and listen to their voices as they each recount a memorable journey they have taken.

Their stories will resonate with many as they include a once in a lifetime holiday, the first day of a new job, and a sunny day at the beach with an ice cream.

Mr McGuinness said: “I congratulate the people involved and the organisers of this exhibition who are celebrating one year on the road by coming to the Millennium Forum in Derry.

“Having walked around the innovative and moving exhibition you can’t help but be gripped by the personal stories and journeys all the participants have been on.

“By raising awareness, ‘My Journey My Voice’ ensures people with a communication disability have a very personal and powerful way of raising awareness of the nature and impact of communication disabilities.”

The exhibition will be on display to the public in the Millennium Forum until October 27, 2016.

You can also view the exhibition online at: www.myjourneymyvoice.org/