A Few Highlights From CampedUP

Are your kids having a great camp experience this summer? This year, Sonya returned to CampedUP, a summer program for kids of all ages (and their hearing siblings) who have cochlear implants and hearing aids. Founded by teachers of the deaf, CampedUP ensures that all kids have a great day camp experience in a listener-friendly environment.

Here are some highlights…

group with snake

The first week of camp, Sonya enjoyed a hands-on reptile show! A wildlife educator introduced these city campers to all kinds of reptiles including turtles, frogs and even a yellow boa constrictor! I am still in shock that Sonya was so brave to wear this snake as a necklace!!

The next week didn’t disappoint. Sonya was thrilled to learn she would get to play with  two “special guests” that week, who turned out to be none other than Disney Princess Sophia and Prince James! “The real ones, mommy, not pretend!” she told me. The Prince and Princess helped the kids decorate crowns and then they all enjoyed a royal ball!

princess sophia and kids.jpg

decorating crowns

Despite a rainy third week, the CampedUP counselors made sure the kids had plenty to do. Counselors dressed up as clowns and did face painting (in a cute, not scary way) 🙂

The kids played the Pie Face Game, and even made balloon animals. Stephen Wise, where the camp is held, has a great indoor playground where the campers could still burn off steam, despite the rain. When the sun finally came back, the campers spent the afternoons on the rooftop playground where they played water games and climbed the jungle gym.


For the last week of Camped UP, founders Dana Selznick and Brittney Prell had one more very special surprise in store. Marvel’s newest superheroes Blue Ear and Saphera visited the campers. These heroes have special hearing powers because of their cochlear implants. Dana told me that when Blue Ear and Saphera told the kids about their special hearing powers, the kids also shared their own powers, including: hearing Santa.

super heroes

The superheroes truly connected with the kids. So amazing 🙂

That night, Sonya transformed into “Super Sonya!” Protector of her toys.


Above all, Sonya made such incredible friendships this year. We are so thankful for Dana, Brittney and their wonderful team of hearing education specialists and counselors who are creating such a strong Oral Deaf Community in New York City.


For Sonya’s upcoming birthday, instead of gifts, we ask that friends consider donating to this wonderful camp. Donations will go toward scholarships so that any child can attend CampedUP. Check it out, here:



Sonya Loves Her New Cochlear Implant Charms!

While perusing Etsy for cute cochlear implant accessories for Sonya, I came across Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms. In case you haven’t encountered her, Hayleigh Scott  designs little charms and jewels for hearing aids and cochlear implants. She has a gazillion designs, from tube twists to decorate the wire in between the coil and processor, to tube treasures, which decorate the tube between the hearing aid or processor and ear mold, and all types of charms which can stick on the processors, the coils, etc.

owl charms

I purchased two owl charms for Sonya, who loves owls and who has an imaginary owl friend. I did this because I thought they were sweet and also because I recently lost Sonya’s cherished owl barrette. “What about Little Hootie?!” Sonya demands each morning before leaving for camp. Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms seemed like a good replacement.

I received the custom ordered charms in just a couple days. Did I mention that they cost only $2.99 per charm? The Cochlear Bling charms attach to Sonya’s processors by way of adhesive. The charms are sturdy and seem likely to hold up to a toddler’s abuse.


I was so impressed that I contacted Hayleigh the shop owner to thank her, and learned that she started this business when she was just TEN. Hayleigh, who has worn hearing aid since she was 18 months old, started designing charms at just five years of age. Today, she is a college.

Not only is she a child business phenom, she is very generous. Hayleigh donates 10 percent of her proceeds to organizations which support the deaf and hard of hearing.

Hayleigh and Oticon President Peer Lauritsen in 2010 when she was honored at the 2010 Oticon Focus on People Awards (given to young people who are working to eliminate negative stereotypes).

She was super kind and generous with her time and let me interview her via email:

What inspired you to start Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms?

When I was in preschool I went to a school for the deaf and hard of hearing. I noticed how my parents, as well as many other parents, grew their children’s hair out to cover their ears. It was strange to me that a community of people who were so alike were still ashamed to even show each other their “disability” or hearing device to each other let alone to strangers. I did not like this and thought that we should show off our hearing devices by decorating them.

When I was five, I started drawing pictures of charms for hearing aids. My mom didn’t understand the drawings at first. It took time for me to interpret them to her, but by the time I was eight years old, we had created them and started the process of getting a patent for my designs. I did research to ensure that nothing like this existed for kids and adults. With my parents help, I applied for a patent from the U.S. Patent Office for my designs.

I opened an online store Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms (which has hundreds of items not on Etsy), as well as my Etsy site a few later.

Hayleigh and her twin sister Vienna and sister Sarah create “Sister Sets” together: bracelets and necklaces that compliment the charms. You can find them here.

Wow! I am so in awe of you! How do you manage to do all of this?!

My mom, dad and my sisters help me. My twin sister Vienna makes necklaces and my sister Sarah makes bracelets so that we can make “sister sets,” which are charms, bracelets and matching necklaces. My mom helps me paint the audiology displays and package things to be mailed and my dad often drives them to the post office.

hayleigh older

Where do you plan to take your business? 

I am looking to grow my business so that my designs can work with the growing diversity of hearing devices. This would allow me to service more people and impact more of the deaf and hard of hearing communities worldwide. There is also continual growth in development of new designs for each established product (Charms, Tube Twists/Cochlear Coils, and Tube Treasures/CI Bling).

I am definitely planning to purchase more of these cuties. Here are a few I am eyeing that I know Sonya would love:

Mermaid Friends

mermaid friend charms

Bob the Builder

Bob the Builder.jpg

And of course, unicorns!

unicorn charms

Thank you, Hayleigh! You are amazing!! 

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