Just when you think community doesn't exist in Juneau something happens that warms your heart and rekindles your faith. I am talking about the newborn hearing project that was dedicated Sept. 9 at Bartlett Regional Hospital here in Juneau.
Newborn hearing testing is a standard of care for our children that sadly we here in Alaska hasn't caught up with. One in 500 children who are born have some hearing loss. This loss if detected at birth and treated has huge consequences for the children's speech and language development. We are talking about the difference between years of speech and language therapy and a child being able to develop language naturally at the same pace of their peers. Just think of the cost savings to the family and the community at large.
This project had languished due to lack of funds and motivation, meaning year by year more of Juneau's children did not receive this vital testing. It languished until some community-minded organizations stepped up to the plate and opened their wallets and made a difference. I in good conscience cannot let their generosity go unnoticed especially when so many generations of children in Southeast Alaska will benefit. So my five stars for community-building here in Juneau go to the Scottish Rite Mount Juneau-Gastineau Lodge No. 21, Alaska Scottish Rite Care Foundation, Juneau Valley Scottish Rite Masons, and Juneau Shrine Club Chapter No. 7 of the Order of Eastern Star.
Not only did they provide the money to purchase the hearing-testing equipment, they have committed to continuing to fund the project for years to come. What does this mean for our community? It means that our children now have a better chance of growing in health and safety. It means that community here in Juneau is not dead, but a living, breathing thing that continues to enrich all of our lives now and for many generations yet to come.