Recently I had the honor of attending the 18th Annual West Texas Deaf Olympics here in San Angelo.  This is a unique event that was created by the imaginative mind of Brenda Wellen, Deaf Educator for San Angelo Independent School District and Region 15.  She has been a compassionate, fearless advocate for children with hearing differences.  Mrs. Wellen said, “I started the WTDO out of a need to get our students together for more socialization with deaf and hard-of-hearing peers. Many of our students are isolated in rural areas as the only student in their school with a hearing difference”.

On April 29th this year WTDO took place with over 100 students and their families, from 15 cities, ages 5-18 years, attending and participating as teams in a variety of events including a rock wall climb, obstacle course, and relay races.  They were also provided a free lunch and lots of water and snacks throughout the morning.

Children with many varieties of hearing attend.  Some communicate only by sign language, others listen and speak, and some use a combination of all of these.

WTDO is a unique and often rare opportunity for these children to meet and play with others like themselves.  They also interact with teenage and adult volunteers who are hard-of-hearing and who act as positive role models.  Parents and family members socialize with each other, with interpreters, with school professionals, and other volunteers from the community.

With support from West Texas Rehabilitation Center I have volunteered at this event for 10 years now.  Every year is exciting and full of wonderful, relaxed interactions with people I typically see in a clinical or school setting.  It has helped build a special bond with the amazing children and families with whom I get to work.  I look forward to many more years to come!

If you would like to find out more about WTDO, how to volunteer next year, or how to make a financial donation please contact Brenda Wellen at:

Brenda Wellen 325-657-4055 x 345 or

or on Facebook at


(This blog was written by Angela Middlebrooks, Au.D.)

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