On February 20, 2016 the CHHA-BC Youth Peer Support Program had its second networking event: the BC Buddies. 13 students aged 10 to 16 from around the Lower Mainland came together for an afternoon of fun games with pizzas and ice cream. It was one of the few opportunities that they can meet and connect with other deaf and hard of hearing peers.
The event was separated into four different activities related to team-building, peer discussion, and self-advocacy. At the beginning, icebreaker games were organized to allow students to become comfortable with their peers – one of the activities was to say their names while passing the ball to the next person and remembering the order. A key goal for this activity was on utilizing visuals: making eye contact with the person before throwing the ball to them, constantly being aware and paying attention to when the ball will be thrown to you by the previous person.
Team-based activities involved Picture Line and Lego. The Picture Line was a modified version of the telephone line, with an emphasis on silent team work and mentally visualizing what the person behind was trying to convey to them by drawing on their backs. This passed on from person to person until it reached the final member of the team and that person had to draw out what they thought their teammates drew. The end results may have been completely different from the original pictures, but the main idea is for students to support one another and to try their best.
With the Lego activity, there were three pre-built structures – each one becoming more challenging than the last one. Students were split into three different groups, and one representative had to be selected from each group to come up and look at the Lego structure, remember it, and return to their teammates and verbally instruct them to build an exact copy. This repeated for 2 more rounds, each with a different representative each time. Through this game, we encouraged multiple aspects of social development, from leadership skills to working with others respectfully as they try to build the replica with as much accuracy as possible.
Finally, the self-advocacy activity involved splitting students into different groups of 4-5 members and come up with responses to the following questions: What makes being D/deaf/Hard of Hearing unique? What do I do to make myself feel good in difficult times? The purpose of this activity was for the groups to discuss amongst one another similarities or differences in their experience being a D/deaf/Hard of Hearing individual, and share solutions or ideas that worked for them in challenging situations.
We were ecstatic to see young peers mingling with one another and enjoying the games that were planned for them. There were 2 participants that left the event becoming newfound best buddies – mission accomplished! Stay tuned for our next event on April 30th.
We would like to recognize our sponsors: CHHA-BC and Caldor Foundation, as well as a token of thank you to Children’s Hearing and Speech Centre of BC for letting us use its facilities.