December 2, 2023

California Baptist University’s ASL club was represented at the Love & Literacy Across California event in the gym of the California School for the Deaf, Riverside (CSDR) on March 5.

The event was presented by the Center on Deafness, Inland Empire (CODIE), and hosted by LEAD-K, an organization committed to providing language to deaf and hard-of-hearing children. Riverside was not the only city where the event was held. Deaf organizations across California hosted the same event simultaneously at different sites in Berkeley, Sacramento, Fresno, Los Angeles and San Diego. For CSDR, it was the first sizeable indoor event since 2020.

The nine ASL club volunteers served as interpreters at various tables with different information and activities. One such volunteer, Priscilla Morino, sophomore history and elementary education double major, staffed the table where children could come and paint.

“With the club, you have people around you that are going through the same thing that you’re doing,” Morino said.

C.J. Wood, junior chemistry major and president of the ASL Club, also said that having several members of the club volunteering at once was beneficial.

“(I’m) just really grateful that they had interpreters here,” Wood said.

Her reasoning for this, she said, is that it allowed her to focus on interpreting at a table with information about CSDR, as well as coordinating with the other volunteers.

Blair Rasmus, one of the event’s many attendees, said through a sign language interpreter that the event was a “good opportunity for any parent of a deaf child” to network and develop relationships within the community.

The opportunity presented, Rasmus explained, is to “develop tools and resources to interact with their deaf children.” She also said that the event provided instructional resources for parents on what to do at home to communicate with their children, help them develop identity and establish community.

There were two tables that seemed to be particularly popular with the kids. The first one was the painting table where Morino was volunteering. Her reasoning for volunteering, she explained, was to gain experience with the Deaf community in an academic setting.

“I wanted to be a teacher for the Deaf and gain this experience, and also being able to be with people I love and enjoy,” Morino said. “That really motivated me to go. Also to be with the kids.”

The second table, staffed by senior political science major Lillian McConnell, was full of books designed to help children learn basic signs.

“I love Deaf culture, and I just want to interact more with individuals who are Deaf,” McConnell said. 

Aside from the children’s books, her table also had books written for hearing parents with helpful advice on how to parent Deaf children.

Apart from the tables, activities and games, the children could also earn raffle tickets. Prizes included books, movies and other small items, and winners were announced at the end of the event.

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