My name is Neha Banerjea - young is Neha Samantha Banerjea. I was born deaf in both my ears on November 2, 1999 in Oakville Ontario, Canada. My parents tell me that it was a life changing moment for them. I can understand why it was “life changing” as I can’t imagine not always being able to listen and hear. They had to choose a mode of communication for me. I am thankful they chose spoken language, as I am definitely an auditory child. I love to listen and talk.

In December 2000 my family became members of Halton-Niagara chapter of VOICE, for the hearing impaired children. Through Voice and with the help of my first AVT therapist Margaret Louwerse, I started to learn to listen. Once it was determined that I was a right candidate for spoken language, at age 2 I underwent a cochlear implant surgery in my left ear at the Hospital for SickKids, Toronto Ontario. This was followed by an implant in my right ear at age 10. The sounds became words and the words became sentences. My parents never stopped talking to me and I became obsessed with listening. With the help of my parents and my therapists I started my journey of learning to listen and said goodbye to ‘silence’.

The professionals warned my parents that I might not be able to enjoy music and there will be many challenges along the way. I am happy when I say that I have been able accomplish what I aspired in my life of 15 years against all odds. Sure, it’s not easy being hearing impaired but with help of VOICE and the professionals, the cochlear implants and the right kind of therapy made a lot of things possible for me. It took a lot hard work and resources for me to gNeha Banerjea - beachet to where I am today.

I was introduced to music and dance at the age of 3 and today I am playing piano at grade 8 level. I do Ballroom dancing at an intermediate level and have been learning Indian classical dance for last ten years. I also like to play recreational tennis. I am looking forward to taking the lifeguard exam when I am sixteen. Thank you again Cochlear for aqua accessories!

In 2003, I had a chance to meet Miss. Heather Whitestone, Miss America 1995 at the Hospital for SickKids when she came to meet kids with cochlear implants. She herself is hearing impaired and has a cochlear implant. I have always been inspired by her story. I am proud to say I competed in the Miss Teenage Canada, provincial search and I have been crowned as Miss Teenage GTA (Greater Toronto Area).

I am excited to represent Ontario at the Miss Teenage Canada pageant in August 2015. This pageant is a huge learning opportunity and I am looking forward to it. In school I am an honor roll student and I enjoy learning different languages like French and Spanish. I am enrolled in the Accelerated Learning Program/International Baccalaureate at White Oaks Secondary School, Oakville ON, Canada. I have been in the SEARS drama competition, where I played a part in the “ Government Inspector”. I also played the lead role of Hermia in “Midsummer Night dream” in my school. Currently I am also participating in DECA provincials with my best friend. DECA is a non-profit business club for high school students. There are different categories that you can compete in like Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Finance, etc. My best friend and I are doing Entrepreneurship. I hope to win and proceed to DECA international.

I have many other aspirations and I am working my way towards them. My biggest mentor is my sister who now lives in New York. She is my to go to person for laughs, tears or advice. She has always been there for me. I am grateful to my parents for giving me ‘voice’. I am also thankful for the help VOICE chapter provided and to have Cochlear implants at the right age. Today I am proud to say that I didn’t let being deaf hold me back. I overcame many obstacles and for me taking 1 step forward no matter what. I have a vision of what I want to achieve and as I work towards it, I know anything is possible when you have a intention.

I will never stop listening, as “Sound does Matter”. I hope to inspire every child and teenager out there and instill hope in them – to never to give up no matter what the challenges may be. This inspiration also keeps me motivated to never to lose faith.

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