The CHHA-BC Youth Peer Support Program held another BC Buddies event on April 30, 2016. This event allowed deaf and hard of hearing youth to meet and connect with peers in the Lower Mainland. We had 11 students aged 10 to 18 attend the event, which it was great to see some familiar faces from the first event return for the second one.
The event was separated into a variety of activities, all aimed at facilitating clear communication, team-building, personal awareness of being a self-advocate.
Similar to the last event, we started off with icebreaker games to let everyone be familiar with each other. Participants had to say the name of the next person they want to pass the bean bag before doing so and this continues until the bean bag reaches the last person. Needless to say, it became chaotic as bean bags were flying everywhere. We then had a productive discussion on how we should ensure eye-contact was made with the person before throwing the bean bag to them and consistently being mindful of when the bean bag will be thrown to you from the previous person – important strategies that apply to any situation in life.
Next, we played silent activities: Telestrations and Charades. The key idea behind these games was to develop skills to communicate with peers through drawings, writings, and gesturing. This builds students’ awareness that in addition to their listening skills, they should also be attentive to the visual cues that can also provide a wealth of information.
Anticipating that it would be a hot sunny day, we thought it’d be “cool” to get wet for our team-based activities: Pass the Water and Water Balloon Toss. Both activities challenge each person’s ability to work together, especially when they have to figure out how to minimize water loss as they pass the water from person to person to fill a glass. With the water balloons, body language was essential as a way to communicate from afar as two partners try to toss and catch the balloon safely while moving away from each other.
We finished the day off with a discussion on common situations that deaf and hard of hearing people will encounter in their daily lives. Students were asked to come up with different strategies and act it out in a short skit. We were impressed with the knowledge that they already possess; these students are well on their way to becoming self-advocates.
The scenarios presented were:
Scenario 1: You are out with your friends, and your hearing aid batteries run out and you don’t have any extra ones with you. How will you let your friends know? What will be some communication strategies you can use?
Scenario 2: You are on the bus or a public transit and an announcement comes on. Yu missed what was said. How do you find out what was said?
Here are some of the responses from the students:
- “writing on the board or paper, texting; using sign language or gesturing”
- “can ask the bus driver to repeat the announcement again or ask someone sitting next to you”
All in all, it brightens our afternoons to see students enjoying being with each other, catching up with old friends and making new ones. We received feedback that the event was “better than what was expected”, which gives us more the motivation in our preparation for the next series of BC Buddies in the Fall. In the meantime, please check out our Home Page on the website for other community events relevant to deaf and hard of hearing youth.
Lastly we would like to recognize our sponsors: CHHA-BC and Caldor Foundation, as well as a token of thank you to BC Family Hearing Resource Society for lending the use of its facilities.