By: Brooke Von Hoffman
On Sept. 24, a group of Pre-K to fifth grade students visited The University of Findlay campus to try their hand at American Sign Language.
Four years ago, UF started meeting once a week in Winebrenner on Tuesdays at 5 p.m. for six weeks in the fall, all in part for the American Sign Language (ASL) program called Talking Hands.
Leah Brant, ASL instructor of teaching at UF, says they’re trying a new adventure for this session of Talking Hands,
“This semester is a camping theme,” said Brant. “The kids will learn signs connected to camping: things to take camping, food you take camping, activities while camping, and animals you may see while camping.”
Hope Brant, the President of the ASL Club at UF and also volunteers at the event, says she enjoys the atmosphere at Talking Hands and loves working with the kids. She also wants to make the best environment for the children as she can.
“We try to make it fun for the kids with multiple activities for them to do,” said Hope Brant. “We make it inviting for kids, especially those that are shy and afraid to leave their parents.”
Yet, as fun as the event is, Hope says there is a lot of hard work that goes in to it behind the scenes.
“It takes a lot of preparation. We need to reach out to the community and UF community to try and get the word out about Talking Hands. Then we have to get ideas flowing for the six weeks of the class,” said Hope. “The sixth week we put a on little graduation for the kids. So, we need to put together certificates and find a place to hold this event big enough for all the kids and their families.”
Despite the hard work, Brant says the reward is worth every second.
“We gain the rewarding experience of spreading the word of ASL to the younger generation. I know personally it makes me feel good teaching little ones a new language,” Brant said. “Seeing them trying to concentrate on moving their little fingers into the shape of an E is just the cutest thing ever.”
Brant is grateful to each and every one of her volunteers.
“I have a group of eight ASL Student Workers who help with these sessions. Each person will have a group of 6-7 kids,” Leah Brant said. “As of right now, we have close to 50 kids registered! I absolutely could not do any of this without their energy and signing skills.
The program is in its third week and will run through Oct.29 and is open to all children ages fourth to fifth grade. On the last night of the six-week session, there will be a family night. At the family nights, the students in the program will be able to show off their newly acquired skills on ASL to their families. In order to join the group, the children and their families would have to pay $20 per child. Each child will get to take home a special gift at the end of the six weeks session.