Deaf Center Saturday Walk-A-Thon Fundraiser in Oakland

I know someone who is smarter than you.

It’s YOU — back when you were a baby. You were a genius; and a good thing too, because from birth you were faced with a task that would daunt even Einstein himself: installing the operating system in the most powerful computer ever known: your own brain.

Child development experts say the crucial years are from birth to age 5, because that’s when children do the crucial self-programming they’ll need for life. carry out throughout their lives. However, they don’t start reading until they are 5 or 6 years old, so most of the vital information they need has to come through their ears.

CEID staff and volunteers participate in the organization’s 2019 Walk-A-Thon, Central Berkeley’s latest “in-person” Walk-A-Thon. (photo courtesy of Cindy Dickeson)

What if you can’t hear, though? While other kids are busy programming their own minds, you’re stuck in a waiting pattern. You could be playing catch-up for the rest of your life. Luckily, there is a wonderful organization in Berkeley called the Center for Early Deafness Intervention (CEID) that is dedicated to helping these kids bridge that gap.

The people at CEID – audiologists, sign language experts, speech language pathologists and certified teachers of the deaf with extensive knowledge and training in child development – are all qualified to work with deaf or hard of hearing children who have special needs their hearing peers did not. t. Many of these teachers are deaf or hard of hearing themselves, so they can speak from their personal experience of navigating the hearing world.

The most popular teacher at CEID isn’t one person, however – he’s a Labrador/golden retriever named Nan who lives with CEID’s executive director, Cindy Dickeson. She teaches children abstract concepts such as “up”, “down” (e.g., “touching Nan’s nose”, “touching Nan’s paw”, “putting the blanket over Nan”, “putting the blanket under Nan “). “under”, etc.

In addition to pulling children in a cart around the playground, she helps them select words during speech therapy. Best of all, Nan never judges them. She always greets children with a happy face and a wagging tail, and they love her.

For 19 years, CEID’s biggest fundraiser has been the annual Walk-A-Thon around Lake Merritt in Oakland, but they’ve had to cancel it for the past two years due to the pandemic. Always resourceful, they made it a virtual event, with people participating virtually in their own neighborhoods, inviting friends and neighbors to sponsor their rides, and posting photos on social media.

The virtual version will be back this year, but it will also be joined by the returning in-person event, which will take place on Saturday. If you would like to participate, go just to the left of the Children’s Fairyland entrance at 10am to purchase a T-shirt. The march will begin at 11 a.m. and Nan will lead the parade. Whether you want to get involved online or in person, visit the CEID webpage at

And please, if you think your child or someone else’s child has hearing problems, contact CEID immediately. Do not wait; the sooner you jump on it, the better. Go online to

You can also contribute to this mission or mercy by clicking on the “Make a donation” button ( on the home page of the CEID website. Also, don’t listen to well-meaning friends, or even doctors, who tell you that your child will “make it.” As Dr. Spock said, “Trust your instincts. You know more than you think.

New showcase: In the meantime, if, like me, you’ve become addicted to chocolate chip cookies, macaroons, olive breads, tapenades and other goodies from the Phoenix Pastificio stand ( at farmers markets in Berkeley, Montclair, Grand Lake, Temescal and Kensington, I have good news: Owners Carole and Eric Sartenaer have just opened a storefront across from Monterey Market on Hopkins Street in Berkeley, right next to Magnani’s Poultry in this charming little block of shops in food. Yum!

Martin Snapp can be reached at [email protected]

Michael A. May