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November 10, 2003

Sign language the voice of choice for kids soon to perform

From: The Lacombe Globe, Canada - Nov 10, 2003

Blackfalds students to open for Red Deer Rebels game

By Lyle Aspinall
Globe Editor

The Blackfalds School Grade 3 Sign Language Club unanimously signs the word ‘free.’


Lacombe Globe — A group of Grade 3 students from Blackfalds School will soon be performing the Canadian and American national anthems for a Red Deer Rebels crowd, but they’re going to let their hands do the singing.
The kids, who have been immersed in sign language since Kindergarten as a way to communicate with hearing-impaired classmate Cole Laing, will be signing the two national anthems before the Rebels host the Portland Winter Hawks on Nov. 19 at 7 p.m.
Eight-year-old Laing wears a Cochlear ear implant to help him hear. He uses the Signed Exact English variety of sign language, and is quite adept at it. Laing also speaks quite clearly; he doesn’t have much trouble holding a conversation with someone who doesn’t know sign language.
But his classmates have learned to communicate with him through their hand thanks to the school’s sign language club.
Needless to say, Laing is excited that his school buddies will be signing alongside him for the big game, and he’s greatly anticipating the day.
"Because I get to watch the Rebels play and I get to go to bed at 10:30," he laughed.
He’s no stranger to hockey or the Rebels either. Laing plays in the Blackfalds Minor Hockey Association and was part of a between-periods mini-game at a Rebels game last year.
His teacher Coralie Walker said he’s been looking forward to performing the anthems ever since he and his friends learned they would be signing to thousands of people.
"He is just beaming," said Walker. "When he found out, he said, ‘Really? We’re going to sign?’"
There will be 49 Grade 3 kids making the field trip.
"Most of them just love hockey, and then to have the chance to show off their signing skills, they’re extremely excited," said Walker.
The Red Deer Rebels organization gave the group 150 tickets, so the kids are sure to have a lot of support in the crowd.

© 2003 Lacombe Globe