Moon Palace Foundation Summer Art Camp benefits deaf children
Several students from St Christopher's School for the Deaf in St Ann were among the 91 children who benefited from Moon Palace Foundation's annual Summer Art Camp, held over one week at the Ocho Rios hotel and ending last Saturday.
Most of the participants were children of staff members or their relatives or friends, and there were also kids from Family Church on the Rock.
This year, tutors from the Edna Manley School of Visual and Performing Arts, teachers from St Christopher's, and Fah Deaf Dancers from Kingston collaborated with the foundation to stage what Natalie Boreland, manager of the foundation, described as successful.
Dolphin Cove also partnered with the foundation, hosting the children for the dolphin experience and delivering an environmental talk.
Part of the week's activities also saw the kids touring the Edna Manley School and getting to rehearse on one of the "big" stages, according to Boreland.
"Overall, it was good, and we chose a theme that's important to Jamaica - 'Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica' - so it was a very important lesson. We covered art, music, drama and dance, and sign language."
Boreland said the partnership with St Christopher's saw teachers providing sign language classes to children without hearing impairments, and this seemed to have impacted them positively.
"It was good - the children learning sign language and realising that children who are hearing-impaired are just like any normal child and it's just a matter of knowing how to communicate with them. And that has been a good partnership for us."
Jennifer Berry, mother of a deaf child, Eric Lewis, who is 12, said she was happy for the camp as it has helped her son.
"The experience was very good. It gave him the courage to move around with others, and I'm so happy about it," she said. "Sometimes he'd be at home sitting down doing nothing, so this is very good for him."
Natalee Walker Williams, guidance counsellor at St Christopher's, assisted as an interpreter and also taught basic sign language to the children.
"It has been good, it has been a success," she said in her assessment. "The children from St Christopher's, they have integrated well. There was some amount of discrimination as some hearing children were not oriented as to how to deal with the deaf, but after speaking to them, their attitude towards the deaf has changed, and they're now open towards them, and they have become friends."
Meanwhile, staff members at Moon Palace have also hailed the summer camp. Camille Thomas, whose children aged six and 11 participated, said: "Basically, they've learned a lot in arts and craft, and they did dancing and music, and they enjoyed themselves. It was really, really good, and I will send them again next year."
Some of the children from St Christopher's were also provided with accommodation at Moon Palace for the duration of the summer camp.