In 1978, to celebrate the 125th Anniversary of Grand Lodge in 1980, the Foundation initiated a fund-raising campaign expressly to support medical research into hearing problems of the inner ear, particularly to contribute to development of the Cochlear Implant Program. "Project H.E.L.P." (Hearing for Every Living Person) raised a capital fund of $600,000. With the interest earned, the Masonic Foundation supports the Auditory Science Laboratory at The Hospital for Sick Children. Contributions have totaled approximately $1.3 million since the inception of the project.
One of the key outcomes of this project has been the ability to expand the cochlear implant program to very young children, because research has shown that profoundly deaf children benefit from the implant, particularly when done at an early age, now aimed at children from one year of age. Another outcome has been development of the ability to measure otoacoustic emissions from infant’s ears, thereby identifying early signs of potential hearing impairment, which has led to universal neonatal hearing screening across Ontario.
Several years ago, the Masonic Foundation of Ontario was honoured at a special ceremony. In recognition of the Foundation’s support and financial contribution to the Auditory Science Laboratory and the Cochlear Implant Program now in place at the Hospital, a plaque marking the Foundation’s financial contribution of more than $1 million has been mounted on the wall outside the new science facility located within The Hospital for Sick Children.
The legacy of the Masonic Foundation in initiating the Cochlear Implant Program at The Hospital for Sick Children will never be forgotten. Every Mason in this Province has reason to be very proud of his contribution to this dynamic program.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
To help the Masons of Ontario celebrate the new Millennium, Grand Lodge and the Masonic Foundation combined forces in 1999 to launch a two-year appeal for $2 million for use to advance research to help hearing-impaired infants. "HELP-2-HEAR" was a resounding success, raising over $2.1 million.
The interest earned on this capital is being used to fund three research projects. Commitments of a minimum of three years and contributions totaling $105,000 annually have been given to the following research projects, which have all started to generate positive and interesting results:
- At the Hospital for Sick Children, neuro-imaging studies in children with hearing loss. The researchers are studying activity patterns in the brain to determine which parts are used in understanding verbal, spoken language and which are used in deaf children when they are using sign language, to determine whether there is a connection.
- At the University of Western Ontario (London), studies to improve the fitting of modern digital hearing aids in infants and young children. The goal is to develop state-of-the-art methods for assessing hearing loss and methods and protocols for the prescription, fitting and verification of the hearing aids fitted to the tiny ears of infants.
- At the University of Ottawa, studies to determine the impact of screening and case finding on the functional status of children with a hearing loss. The long-term objective is to investigate the impact of the age of diagnosis of hearing loss on child development in the domains of speech and language communication, and social functioning.
These three research projects are highly complementary to one another in terms of better understanding the problems associated with dealing with infants and children who exhibit a hearing deficiency. The anticipated results should significantly add to the body of knowledge that is critically required in this field.