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Washington D.C.  (July) – The AG Bell Leadership Opportunities for Teens (LOFT) program wrapped up four days of whirlwind activities in Washington, D.C., which included panel exercises with local dignitaries, a tour of the White House, a ROPES course adventure and a special presentation at the U.S. Capitol. Finally, the 20 teens between the ages of 15 and 18 who are deaf or hard of hearing and use spoken language were treated to a closing night reception at The Volta Bureau, AG Bell headquarters in Washington, D.C.

LOFTimg6In observing LOFT, AG Bell’s Executive Director Alexander T. Graham commented that it reminded him of the C.S. Lewis quote, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.’” Graham

continued that while White House tours and meetings in U.S. Capitol are likely to leave a lasting impression on these future leaders, “Nothing is more important than the friendships made during their four days in Washington, D.C. That’s what LOFT is all about—peers coming together.” The 2009 LOFT program is the kick-off AG Bell’s reinvestment in youth and family programming. Revised and new programs for parents and college-age adults are also underway.

AG Bell would like to especially thank its lead sponsors, Oticon and National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID), as well as the MaxLOFTimg1 and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation and the Tenenbaum Family Foundation, for their support of this year’s program. Appreciation and thanks go to the volunteers that generously donated their time and expertise in their respective fields to help put on a fabulous program:

  • Al Hunt, noted political commentator, Bloomberg News
  • Varissa McMickens, Executive Director, D.C. Arts and Humanities Education Collaborative
  • Rhona Friedman, Vice Chair, D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities
  • Ingrida Lusis, Director of Federal and Political Advocacy for the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
  • Dr. I. King Jordan, President Emeritus, Gallaudet University
  • Karen Peltz Strauss, co-founder, Coalition of Associations for Accessible Technology
  • Rachel Dubin, member, AG Bell Public Affairs Council
  • Josh Swiller, bestselling author and Visiting Professor, Gallaudet University
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