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May 4, 2004

Deaf group brings fun to youngsters

From: Suffolk Evening Star - Ipswich,England,UK - May 4, 2004

DEAF awareness week is giving a group of youngsters the chance to really get their message across.

Rebecca Whitting of Ipswich set up the Ipswich Youth Group for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing last September and it is now thriving.

Miss Whitting, who is profoundly deaf herself, recognised that there were no facilities for children with these disabilities.

She said: "Due to their circumstances, attending regular youth groups was out of the question.

"Not being able to hear put them at an instant disadvantage compared to the rest of the children and normally they would end up lagging behind with no clear understanding of what was going on.

"This youth group provides a vital unit where the children can congregate and learn fundamental social skills among their peers".

With the help of the Suffolk Deaf Association (SDA) and Local Network Funding the youth group was created back in September 2003.

The children range in ages between 5 and 16 years old, and the group has now 14 children attending and 6 volunteers.

Karen Westworth whose son Paul attends the youth group of which she is also a committed volunteer, said: "This is a really good place for the children to meet.

"My son, who is profoundly deaf, especially enjoys it here as there are so many fun games for him to enjoy.

"It is also very important for his progression as he is able to develop his social skills.

"At school he can often get left behind as communicating with hearing children is very difficult for him.

"Here he can relax and play like any other normal child."

Miss Whitting is now involved with developing another youth group, this time in Bury St. Edmunds.

Gavin Songer, 13, who has attended the youth group since it started said: "I love seeing my Friends.

"I prefer it here as I can relate to the children more as all have similar circumstances as me.

"The best bit is probably the tuck shop and the games."

However the youth group's funding is limited so providing a range of activities for the children is also limited.

More funding is needed to promote the group and provide valuable equipment and fun adventure holidays for the children to enjoy.

nPlease Contact Sheila or Sarah at the Suffolk Deaf Association on 01473 251179 for more information either to aid in their fund raising or to find out more about the group.

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