FCCLA project focuses on children who have hearing impairments

Through her FCCLA project, Melissa Bullinger found a way to give a thank you to a program that has helped her family.

The 10th grader at Burlington High School sewed 24 blankets that were delivered to Wyoming Hands and Voices. She said the program helps kids who are born deaf (or go deaf) and/or without an ear. The blankets are given to the mothers of the newborns.

Melissa’s mother, Christine, said 22 babies on average are identified as deaf or hearing impaired in Wyoming each year.

Melissa’s older brother, Ammon, was born with a hearing impairment. She said that is how she knew about the program. The project was a way for her to thank the program for all it has done.

Christine said Wyoming Hands and Voices was a fairly new organization when their son was born. “They were and continue to be a great source of information and support for any problems or obstacles we’ve encountered as well as just being good cheerleaders as we’ve raised our kids,” she added.

The organization helped the Bullingers have a first exposure to sign language in a time when they really needed to learn and use it with Ammon. They also gave him role models of other successful kids using hearing aids as he grew.

Christine said they have enjoyed the many family activities they have been able to attend. They have made many friends across the state. 

Melissa said the project took her about 30 hours to complete, which started during Christmas break. She said there were some that she had to finish after the break.

Christine’s first thought on the project was that it was really a big project to tackle, but definitely worth the effort. She said Melissa was committed from the beginning.

Melissa used her own money from working to pay for the material. Christine said she stuck to it through the mishaps and showed great patience when having to redo sections.

The motor on her sewing machine burned out during the process. Melissa had to switch over to using the family’s antique sewing machine that was built in 1924. Christine said it only does a forward straight stitch. 

“She was grateful when the original sewing machine got fixed,” she said.

Another thing Melissa had to figure out in her project was how to include the Hands and Voices logo on each blanket. She originally planned to hand embroider each one. Christine said they found out Melissa could use a regular inkjet printer and print directly onto a special fabric. She used that option and made custom labels. 

The project was fun for Melissa. Christine is proud of her daughter for picking a meaningful project. 

“Melissa is just one of those people who have a big heart and are always looking for a way to give back to others,” she said.

Christine thinks it speaks volumes to how much of an influence Melissa’s grandma, Nancy Bullinger, has been. She said that she learned sewing skills from her grandma.

Melissa also learned about child development since she had to make that connection for her FCCLA project focus. The focus was on children.

Melissa will be presenting this project at a state competition in March in Casper. If she wins, she will advance to the national competition, which is in California.

By JESSICA ROBINSON