First-graders help tell the Easter Seal story

December 26, 1997

First-graders help tell the Easter Seal story

Augusta Bowers, youth representative for The Easter Seal Society of Franklin and Adams Counties Inc., takes her duties seriously.

Her mother told her recently that she would be meeting a newspaper reporter for an interview.

"She said 'Gee, Mom, I have a job now,' " mom Amy Bowers says.

The 6-year-old, also the daughter of Kevin Bowers of Mercersburg, Pa., will serve in the honorary position through August.

Youth representatives help tell the Easter Seal story by bringing publicity to the organization, says Robert S. Hoover, Easter Seal president.

"Our name doesn't give a clue as to what we really do," Hoover says.

The Easter Seal Society's mission is to help those with disabilities lead a more independent life, he says.

The society offers rehabilitation services to people of all ages who have speech, language or physical disabilities.


They include car safety seat and equipment loans; polio, stroke and laryngectomy support clubs and sign language classes. Through the Kids on the Block program, puppets help students to understand disabilities.

The Franklin and Fulton chapter has offices in Chambersburg, Pa., Waynesboro, Pa., and Gettysburg, Pa.

Augusta can make appearances for any organization or public event, Hoover says.

Her first duty was to throw the switch that lighted the Christmas tree in downtown Waynesboro.

Coming appearances include a health fair and Waynesboro Rotary Club's turkey dinner in March and a chicken dinner sponsored by Chambersburg Rotary Club and Knights of Columbus in April.

Augusta, a first-grader at Mercersburg Elementary School, has a hereditary hearing loss in both ears. Amy Bowers says her husband has hereditary hearing loss, and he wore a hearing aid in grade school.

Augusta is very open about the fact she wears hearing aids, and she answers questions if people ask, Amy Bowers says.

She began wearing them in March. The mold that fits into the outer portion of her ear is pink. It will need to be replaced as she grows.

Amy Bowers says Augusta's kindergarten teacher recommended that her speech be evaluated.

Speech development

Augusta's hearing loss affected the development of her speech. She's been taking therapy for about a year at the society's Chambersburg office at 55 Hamilton Road.

She has therapy sessions every Friday with Carolyn Coss, audiologist and speech and language pathologist for the society. She also is learning sign language.

Augusta has a speech book with pictures, and with Coss' guidance, she uses each word in a sentence.

"The 'sh' words are hardest," Augusta says.

Augusta's hearing has an unusual configuration, and she can hear some sounds but has difficulty with others, Coss says.

Amy Bowers says her daughter has a hard time putting phonics together.

"We tell her to say it loud so she hears it," she says.

Augusta has two dogs named Cricket and Shadow, two cats, Ornery and Delilah, and a guinea pig named Brownie. She enjoys reading, drawing, working on a pottery wheel and having friends come to her home after school.

She is in a regular first-grade class for part of the day, then she has classes with other students who have hearing disabilities.

Augusta knows she's not alone, and that there are other children with the same problems, Amy Bowers says.

"She's just an average child with a disability," Amy Bowers says.

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