Everyone invited to Deaf Week | AspenTimes.com

Everyone invited to Deaf Week

The 27-year-old Aspen Camp School begins its Deaf Awareness Week Friday, an event designed to allow locals and visitors to acquaint themselves with the language, culture and history of the deaf community.

About half the campers are from Colorado; the rest are from around the country. In the past, the ACSD has even had participants from Europe and elsewhere in the world. There are usually more than 100 campers, ages eight to 18, spread out over five summer sessions.

During the week, campers take part in numerous activities, from pottery making and photography to computer classes and art projects. They also work on a theater production that they perform at the end of the week.

Camp director BJ Blocker said the awareness week is planned as a way for the public to see what campers are doing. “[Our] mission is community awareness,” she said.

Through events open to the public, the ACSD hopes to initiate people who don’t know that the camp exists, or who know very little about what the camp accomplishes, Blocker said.

The week will kick off Friday and Saturday with the Camp’s 13th annual Career Days. Deaf and hard-of-hearing adults from around the country will join the staff at ACSD in sharing their professional and educational successes and challenges.

Teen campers will be provided with the opportunity to discuss their concerns, ask questions, and get some ideas about potential career options. Young people who are deaf and hard-of-hearing seldom meet others with similar communication needs; the chance to meet successful adults is an inspiring, motivating event, said event organizers.

Deaf Stars Night on Monday, at 7 p.m. at the Given Institute, will feature internationally known American Sign Language poet Clayton Valli, television and film actor Anthony Natale, and the ACSD campers.

Valli is also co-author of “Linguistics of American Sign Language.” Natale has appeared in well-known films such as “Mr. Holland’s Opus” and “Jerry Maguire.” Voice interpreters will be available during both the performance and the reception to talk to hearing members of the community.

Another community event will be a Picnic Dinner Benefit on Thursday, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the camp. The picnic will provide the public with an opportunity to socialize with the staff and campers of the ACSD.

Guests are invited to tour the campus, eat dinner and stay for the campers’ art show and drama performance. RSVP for the dinner, so there will be enough food, by calling 923-2511 (V) or 923-6609 (TTY). A donation will be requested for the meal and/or camp program.

Blocker’s objective for the camp is to “open up the doors and let people learn about it because it’s really neat.” She hopes that people will realize that the campers are “just like us – they just don’t hear.”

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