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October 31, 2008

Grant helps SPORTS provide interpreters for deaf players

From: Indianapolis Star - United States - Oct 31, 2008

By Carrie Ritchie

Dante Paulone, 11, has a special relationship with his 14-year-old cousin, Tyler Lehnerz. Dante, an avid athlete, was born deaf and needs an interpreter when he plays sports. So Tyler stepped in to help.

Dante plays on the Knights traveling football team through the Southeastern Program of Recreational Team Sports, and Tyler goes to his practices and games to interpret what coaches and players are saying. Saturday night, the pair will go to the Indiana Elementary Football Association's state finals where the Knights play Center Grove.

Dante said through an interpretive service that he's excited for the game and loves sports and competition. He hopes to play sports through college.

Teri Paulone, his mother, said it would be difficult for Dante to play his best without an interpreter, because he wouldn't always know what the coach and team expect of him. Teri Paulone, who's also deaf and spoke through the service, said the SPORTS program has provided interpreters to her son for years.

"The SPORTS programs are really trying hard to make this work, and I really appreciate it; it's great," she said. "There are a lot of deaf children who come here because they know that this community will make everything equal access for the children."

Earlier this fall, SPORTS was one of 20 programs in the nation to earn a grant from Liberty Mutual Insurance. SPORTS will put the $2,500 gift toward funding interpreters.

To win the grant, SPORTS had to get parents to participate in a sports parenting quiz on Liberty Mutual's Responsible Sports program Web site. SPORTS had one of the 20 highest participation rates nationwide, and it was the only program in Indiana to win a grant.

SPORTS publicized the quiz contest in its e-newsletter and got a lot of response.

The program has about 10 children who are hearing impaired and works with as many interpreters, said Pam Johnson, SPORTS development director. Interpreters, who charge $40 to $50 per hour and have a two-hour minimum, will cost the program about $5,000 this year, she said.

"We just feel really blessed to have parents that are so involved with their kids' programs," Johnson said.