Mountain Lakes, NJ — The Lake Drive Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports programs for children who are deaf and hard of hearing, has received a $10,000 grant from Staples Foundation for Learning (SFFL), a private foundation created by Staples, Inc, the office products chain.

Funding from SFFL is to be used to support The Sound Start Program, which develops communication skills during the optimal time for auditory learning in infants and toddlers with hearing loss.

Stephanie Deyo, president of The Lake Drive Foundation, said in a press statement, "The support we receive from Staples will help infants and toddlers learn to hear, listen, and speak during the vital early years when the window of opportunity is open for auditory development."

Since 1969, the speech and language therapists and teachers of the deaf in The Sound Start Program have helped more than 1,000 children from northern and central New Jersey. Services also include physical and occupational therapy, consultations with a social worker, psychologist, and pediatric audiologist, as well as parent support and education.

Sound Start operates under the auspices of The Lake Drive Programs in Mountain Lakes, NJ, which offers a comprehensive continuum of educational opportunities for children with hearing loss from birth through high school graduation. The Lake Drive Programs provide services for more than 300 students who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Last year the program was expanded to include Ivy Nursery, a full day inclusive group development class for toddlers, where children with and without hearing loss learn side by side in a specially created environment to enhance auditory learning. This innovative model is the first of its kind in New Jersey. State funding covers less than half the cost of The Sound Start Program. The Lake Drive Foundation raises the funds necessary to fill the gaps.

SOURCE: The Lake Drive Foundation and The Staples Foundation