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East ASL Club Creates Unique Summer Reading Program

East ASL Club Creates Unique Summer Reading Program

In a “normal” year, mentors from the Deaf Institute visit houses during the summer to read books to children using American Sign Language (ASL). Like many other plans, the coronavirus has made the organization rethink its summer reading program.

“Normally, people go to houses and sign books because so many parents of deaf children don’t sign or are learning to sign themselves,” explained Lakota East ASL teacher Jessica Snyder. As a member of the organization’s board, Snyder is part of the group that has reimagined the program and tapped into the East ASL Club to help.

This year, the theme of the reading program is travel and East’s 10 club members were eager to help with the service project. “I think it’s fun (to help),” said junior LeAnn Niederman. “As much as we’re doing sign language in class, this gives us a purpose to help.” Neiderman is one of the club’s student leaders, along with fellow junior Megan Davis.

The club meets monthly to practice signing, play games and complete craft projects. This is the first service project they’ve been involved in. “In our (class) books, we read about the deaf culture, but to be able to help (bring it to life) is great,” noted Davis. 

The club has begun transforming boxes to look like old fashioned suitcases, which will contain three books and activities. The students are hoping to include travel stickers for the children to be able to decorate the outside of their suitcases as well. With the club’s limited budget, they are beginning to reach out to local businesses for donations.

In the end, the boxes will go to 10 families, which includes about 20 children. Niederman and Davis were both thrilled to be involved with the project. “This is a hands-on, immersive activity,” explained Davis, who is hoping the club can continue assisting with the program next year. “The more (parents and children) can learn together, the better a bonding experience they’ll have.”

Niederman agrees. “To have something that is ongoing will be exciting. (It’s) helping the kids read books and helping parents learn to sign. We’re helping to make memories.”