In the summer of 2004, a handful of families set off for Velden am Wörthersee in the fantastically situated family guesthouse Cap Wörth. They were all united by the cochlear implant that they themselves or their children were wearing. Sharing experiences in an informal atmosphere, getting to know each other and networking, supporting others, everyday tips and tricks from "experienced" families for those whose children have recently been implanted - these were some of the pillars on which the event was built.
"It's so cool that I'm finally not the only one with a CI, almost all the children here have CIs!"
The concept was rounded off with technical support from the sponsor MED-EL, whose employees adapted fittings as required, rectified minor problems with the processor and provided updates and outlooks on future innovations in hardware, software and the rehabilitation sector.
The success of the Summer Days since 2004 is also due to the creative supporting program, which offers something for all children: the little ones are lovingly supervised and practice their creative handicrafts, the older ones create an impressive play in just a few days and the grown-ups sunbathe on the in-house beach or talk about their experiences in everyday life with CI over a drink at the bar. The particularly active ones dig and plank, cycle or greet the day with morning gymnastics.
The "grown-ups" encourage others
The days in Velden have been too short in the last 19 years, just like the nights. The social get-togethers often extend into the early hours of the morning, whether planned, as at the legendary cocktail evenings, or unplanned, because there is simply so much that the parents or young CI users want to share with each other.
The Summer Days in Velden stand for games, fun, sport and the CI as a common bond. What all families have in common is the ambition to do as well as possible in the traditional Family Olympics. Whether it's target shooting with homemade paper planes or pantomime performances of song titles, it's always funny, so that even those who more or less narrowly miss out on victory can laugh about it.
"When I see how well young people with CIs communicate, how much the CI is an inconspicuous part of their everyday lives and how successful they are at work and university, it makes me confident for my son, who has only been implanted for a few months. I'm glad we decided to go for the CI!"
Many friendships have developed over the last 19 years, the little ones from 2004 have long since outgrown their infancy and are either studying or have successful careers. The little ones from back then are the best proof for the little ones of today and their parents that life with a CI does not have to be significantly different from that of children with good hearing. Hurdles in speech development, at school or on the way to adulthood cannot simply be conjured away, but the different coping strategies of many of those affected show possible solutions and provide encouragement.
19 years and not a bit quiet
19 years after the first Summer Days, the small group of CI families has grown to around 150 participants. Due to the pandemic, the official 20th anniversary will not be celebrated until next year, but of course there was already a celebratory mood at the Summer Days 2023.
The dinner in the elegant ambience of Schloss Mageregg, accompanied by entertaining music that encouraged many children and some adults to dance, the trip to Rosegg Zoo and the legendary cocktail party, which was moved indoors without further ado due to the weather, all created childhood memories.
The informative part was not neglected this year either. Parents eagerly soaked up the latest rehab materials, apps and CI developments. The new CIA board also presented itself and its ideas.
"The Summer Days are the best days of the year for our children!"
In the traditional Family Olympics with guessing games and games of skill, a family that was taking part in the Summer Days for the first time came out on top. What a triumph, because honor is the greatest prize in this competition!
Everyone takes part in the traditional Family Olympics!
The new theater team Johanna and Florian humorously staged the motto of the play Velden, dass...? with the children and teenagers. The bets were complemented by lively musical interludes by the Summer Days CI band under the direction of musician Aron. The dance interludes were provided by the dance workshop ensemble, choreographed by dance teacher and CI user Laura.
After the thunderous final applause, chief organizer Max was tempted to make a daring bet: Bet that... the next 19 years in Velden will also be great? The participating families are already saying: "Top, the bet is on!"; and are already in the starting blocks for the 2024 registration. And: The upcoming anniversary year promises very special highlights in addition to the tried and tested program!
If you would like to relive the Summer Days 2023, you can reminisce by looking at the photos at ci-a.at!