The annual Sign Language Camp facilitated by the International Christian Centers for the Deaf (ICCD) commenced at Agape Christian School’s Grace Gym from July 23 to July 27.
This year’s theme was: “Love God; Love People.”
A familiar face on the island, Kayla Rohr, ICCD’s Missionary-Bahamas Coordinator and Sign Language Interpreter, returned with ICCD missionaries and volunteers from the Abundant Life Bible Church in New Providence for the camp.
The volunteer staff from Abundant Life included Zhyon Thomas, who was responsible for crafts; Johnette Cela and Vanae Smith taught sign language; and Patrick Pierre assisted with games and teaching drama.
Approximately 25 children participated in the Sign Language Camp with some first-time campers as well as those who had attended before. Two of the campers were deaf.
Kayla Wong, who was enjoying her first time at the camp, was excited to learn how to sign the words for different types of sports, how to say “yes” or “no”, and food vocabulary words.
“It was interesting, and I liked it,” Wong expressed. “I want to come again next year.”
Also attending camp for the first time was Laila Parotti. In addition to sports, she recalled learning the signs for cars, trucks, boats, trains and the subway. She also made new friends, and boasted about the teachers being very nice.
Meanwhile, Gael Britus who was a returning camper was pleased to meet new people, and for the opportunity to learn more advanced sign language.
Level 1 Sign language was designed for participants learning sign language for the first time, whereas Level 2 was utilized by those who already have prior knowledge of sign language.
Eden Cartwright had also attended the camp before. Highlights of the camp for her were communicating with the deaf and meeting new friends.
“It’s important for me to learn a new language, and learning sign language is fun. You never know if you will meet a deaf or hard of hearing person,” Cartwright explained.
The children also learned how to sign numbers, the alphabet, days of the week, travel words and words used in the home. They were also engaged in a silent lunch where no one could speak leaving them to rely on signing to communicate.
Beyond teaching sign language to campers, the main goal of the camp is to reach the deaf and the hearing community to learn sign language and to share the Gospel of Christ, Rohr said.
Reinforcing their goal as Rohr interpreted what she signed, Cela added that as instructors they had the responsibility of teaching the children sign language in order to communicate with and help those who are deaf in the Abaco community.
For Pierre, he is hopeful that something can be established long-term for the deaf who reside here, so that the work they have started can be continued. He noted how eager and willing both the children and adults were to learn sign language.
Thomas on the other hand recognized the importance of teaching those who can hear how to sign, so that they can be a great support to those who are deaf particularly those who do not attend school.
“It was a wonderful week full of blessings from the Lord, and we all had a fun week learning Sign language and how to love God and love People,” Rohr acknowledged. “At the end of the week, I heard several parents of the kids say that their kids came home and were even teaching them sign language. It’s so exciting to see them making an effort to learn a language, so they can communicate with the deaf in Abaco.”
She noted that there were many people who helped make the Sign Language Camp a huge success as she thanked: Marsh Harbour Gospel Chapel; Agape Christian School; Principal Cecil Albury; Andrea Berner & New Vision Ministries; Kathy Sawyer; Mrs. Wong; Farrah Cartwright; ALBC Deaf Ministry (Patrick P. Pierre , Zhyon Thomas , Johnette Cela, Vanae A. Smith and Bro. Rovan) as well as ICCD missionaries (Janice Schaffhauser, Emily Timma and Mandy) Chris Sawyer from Jamie’s Place for a delicious dinner and Canishka Stuart-Alexander from The Abaconian.
“Thanks to everyone for praying! It truly was a great week! To God be the Glory great things He has done!” Kayla exclaimed.
The camp was offered at a cost of $30 for hearing persons and was free for deaf campers with free evening sessions offered to adult learners. The fee included lunch and sign language materials.
A closing ceremony was held on the final day, July 27, for parents to see what their children had learned throughout the course of the camp.
The International Christian Centers for the Deaf (ICCD) is a ministry focused on the deaf throughout the world. Donations in the form of cheques can be mailed to the ICCD Office with “Kayla” in the Memo Line. The address is ICCD -P.O. Box: 540 Cloverdale, VA 24077.
You may also visit the Web site at: www.iccd.net.