April 2019 The Denver Channel

Molly Nieder has always loved to sing. The 8-year-old loves Taylor Swift songs and says she wants to be a professional singer when she grows up, just like her idol. “She is sweet and funny and smart and lately she has been into theatre and acting and singing,” said Molly’s father, Brad Nieder. So, when a local after school program called Noteable Kids held auditions for a children’s production of "The Little Mermaid," Molly wanted to audition. “I was super shy at first and then I went on stage and then I loved it and it was just my dream to become a singer,” Molly said. She braved auditions and stage fright to try out for a few parts in the musical and was ultimately chosen to play the lead role of Ariel. “To get the part was a dream come true for a little girl,” Brad said.

Molly Nieder

But it’s not just Molly’s voice or her bravery that make her unique; Molly was born deaf. “She sings beautifully and it’s kind of amazing that you see her on stage singing and reciting lines and you think, ‘Wow, this girl was born deaf,’” Brad said. Molly was just a baby when her parents started to think that something might be wrong. They started taking her to audiologists and documented the journey using a home video camera. Finally, when Molly was 9 months old, doctors determined that she was profoundly deaf. When she was just 14-months-old, Molly’s parents decided to have her get a surgery for cochlear implants so that she would be able to hear.

For the Nieder family, the technology has been life-changing. “If it were 30 years ago, she would be in a school for the deaf and we would all be learning sign language, and instead she’s in a mainstream school and she’s Ariel in the "Little Mermaid,"” Braid said. With the use of cochlear implant, Molly can now hear and sing just like her peers. Brad Nieder says normally, children with cochlear implants don’t like music since the sounds can be loud and there are so many instruments that it’s difficult to make out the tunes through the implants. However, Molly loves listening to music and sings whenever she has the chance. The family even has a piano in the living room for Molly to practice and play. “She’s just like a normal kid and, like I said, if you didn’t see the thing on her head you wouldn’t even know that she’s deaf,” Brad said. “And yet, it’s moments like this when we see her on stage we were like, ‘Wow this is a pretty amazing journey that she’s been on.’”

Sometimes her classmates ask questions about what the implants on her ears are and how they work. However, Molly isn’t shy about explaining how the technology works and how it helps her.

It’s these implants that might make Molly the perfect person to play the lead role in "The Little Mermaid" since she can relate to the struggles Ariel faced. “Ariel had her voice taken away, but I had my hearing taken away and it’s kind of like the same, it’s like Ariel,” Molly said. However, just like Ariel overcame her differences in the movie, Molly’s family says she can overcome hers to follow her dreams. “There is some irony there that the girl whose world started silent and who’s life started in a silent world is playing the role of a character who becomes silent,” Brad said.

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