A WEST YORKSHIRE speech and language therapist is raising money for children who are deaf by running this year’s London Landmarks Half Marathon.

Sophie Williams will mark International Cochlear Implant Day – which is on 25 February – by fundraising for Auditory Verbal UK (AVUK).

Sophie is from Leeds and works at the Yorkshire Auditory Implant Service at Bradford Royal Infirmary.

As part of her role, she assesses deaf children who are candidates for cochlear implants and supports those who receive implants.

She has also begun the AVUK training programme, in a bid to become a certified auditory verbal therapist.

“All therapists want the best for those we work with, and I knew at university I wanted to use my degree to support deaf children”, Sophie said.

“Supporting a child born deaf to start school with age-appropriate speech and language makes a real difference to their social mobility.

“We know a child’s language abilities when they start school are a strong predictor of their future academic, economic and social outcomes.

“Seeing the difference auditory verbal therapy can make to a deaf child to be able to converse with their hearing friends and family has made me want to expand the skills I already have.

“Families with deaf children deserve to have access to all the available options.”

AVUK Chief Executive, Anita Grover, said: “There are approximately 7,200 deaf children under the age of five in the UK who currently face the prospect of lower academic achievement, lower employment and are at higher risk of poor mental health, bullying and social exclusion.

“But it doesn’t have to be this way. When children and families have access to effective, early support, deaf children can get an equal start.

“We want to enable all families who wish their child to develop spoken language to have the opportunity to access an auditory verbal programme through publicly funded services.

“To do that, we need to increase expand the number of specialist auditory verbal therapists working in the NHS and local services.

“With an investment of £21.5m over the next 10 years, we can provide a sound future for deaf children and unlock an economic benefit of £152m, rising to £11.7billion over 50 years.”

Sophie is running the London Landmarks Half Marathon on 3 April with her partner, Will.

To support, you can visit their fundraising page, and to support AVUK, you can click here.