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Helen Keller National Center Participant Visits Manorhaven Elementary for PARP Week Community Read Aloud 

Manorhaven students experience the magic of storytelling in sign language.

Newscaster: A unique story time in Port Washington.

Sarah Greco: “Again and again.”

Newscaster: That’s James Jensen, he’s a Deaf and low vision participant from the Helen Keller National Center. He used sign language to read to second graders at Manorhaven Elementary School. The students watched him sign while teacher, Sarah Greco, read the book out loud.

Lorraine Bellmann, Manorhaven Elementary School Teacher: “He taught us some of the signs of the animals before we even started, and so the children were able to do some signs.

Newscaster: The event is designed to show students that people who are both are Deaf and blind or low vision can still read. [End of Transcript]

James, a Deafblind participant at Helen Keller National Center, was invited to take part in a Community Read Aloud during Manorhaven Elementary School’s PARP Week. He was accompanied by Sarah, a senior instructor in our Independent Living Department.

James started off by sharing details of his personal story – explaining to the students that he was born Deaf, regularly uses sign language and a white cane, and began losing his vision in high school. He also talked about why he came to HKNC and that the specialized training he receives here allows him to live and work more independently at home.

Before the reading began, James made sure to teach the children some basic ASL signs for the animals mentioned in the storybook “Stuck in the Mud.” From the very first page, the kids were completely captivated, watching with smiles as James animatedly signed his way through the tale, with Sarah reading the words aloud. The students delighted in recognizing some of the animal signs they had just learned. After the story finished, several children raised their hands, eager to learn from James how to sign “friend.”

Thank you Manorhaven Elementary, Principal Mace, Mrs. Bellman and her amazing “bunch” for this wonderful opportunity to connect with members of our community, spread awareness, and shape perceptions around those living with disabilities. Our hope is that the next generation will grow up more inclusive and compassionate towards all people regardless of their abilities.

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