The generosity of strangers can speak volumes when it comes to helping deaf children in New Zealand.

Seven-year-old Thomas Geater and his family are encouraging people to help this week, by donning their loudest shirts to help raise funds for a couple of charities.

Loud Shirt Day is an annual event that raises money for paediatric programmes at the Hearing House and the Southern Cochlear Implant Programme. Both charities help deaf children with hearing aids or cochlear implants learn to listen and speak.

This year's event is this Friday, September 27.


Thomas's mother, Michelle, says Thomas benefited from the Southern Cochlear Implant Programme in Christchurch a few years ago.

Thomas was born with hearing loss and later diagnosed with a condition called auditory neuropathy. Hearing aids proved ineffective and he was referred to the Southern Cochlear Implant Programme to be considered for a cochlear implant.

He recieved the implant just before his third birthday, says Michelle, and his world changed.

"I remember one day, after the implant, him telling me he hadn't known birds talked."

Before the implant, Thomas had simply not been able to experience life the way hearing children did.

Michelle says the implant has made a real difference to Thomas.

"When he was first diagnosed I remember thinking what is life going to be like for him? But the cochlear implant has allowed him to go to school, and be just like every other kid. I am blown away by the whole journey and how far he has come."

For his birthday this year, Thomas decided to hold a disco party and asked for Loud Shirt Day donations instead of presents, says Michelle.


"He raised $117.60 for Loud Shirt Day."

For Loud Shirt Day individuals can bring a gold coin to take part in a loud dress-up day at school, businesses might hold a themed morning tea, and individuals can host a breakfast for a donation. Retirement villages can stage a fashion parade or hold a raffle.

Those wanting to get involved can enrol as a team, individual, workplace, school, or sports team at