Camp to teach communication skills to hearing-impaired children

Last year, it was a visit from the Reno probation officer that sparked excitement.

This year, it may be the trip to the fire department, an adventure to the swim pool or a visit to the library that helps students connect the larger world to their own hard-of-hearing reality.

"We believe this is the only way for children to succeed," said Gary Olsen, executive director for the Nevada Association of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Advocacy Research Center.

All of this year's two-week Communication Arts day camp will be conducted by adults knowledgeable in American Sign Language. They will teach day-campers about video relay, the teletypewriter and school interpreters.

"Deaf and hard-of-hearing students need as much exposure to the utilization of their own language," Olsen said. "Once they understand their own language, they understand the ability to communicate and they can pick up anything. In other words, it helps them pick up the education they have been denied for now."

The camp runs from July 25-29 and Aug. 1-5 and is open for hard-of-hearing and deaf students ages 5 and up. There are 192 such students in the Northern Nevada area and the camp can take up to 75 participants. Olsen expects up to 50 could end up participating.

"Most of the kids coming are from different counties," he said. "From Winnemucca, and up in the north, all the way to Elko and all the way down to Tonopah. We invite all kids to come and enjoy the summer for two weeks of activities."

The camp, funded through donations from the community, is free to students. Otherwise, the cost of the camp would cost the Nevada Association of the Deaf between $3,000 and $4,000.

"We do fund-raising, we search for grants, we search for community donations," Olsen said. "We were very successful last year and we expect good support from the community again this year."

Already, Enterprise Rental Car has donated a vehicle to use for two weeks and some car dealers have also made sizable donations, Olsen said.

"Other groups are donating food and lunch for the kids. Costco donates funding to help us buy food that we need, such as snacks and fruit and that sort of stuff. It's always good to have cash donations. That way, if we're short of something, we can buy it. It helps to have a good sizable fund that's ongoing."

The camp begins at 9 a.m. each day and ends at 2 p.m. Camp is divided into groups by age and occurs either at Carson High School or Mills Park.

"Most of the afternoon is focused on recreation whereby in the morning we focus on enrichment - how to hold a conversation, communicating with others, respecting others," Olsen said. "We teach them values that will help them become good citizens."

The Nevada Association for the Deaf was founded in 1981 to improve the conditions of deaf Nevada residents. The association then obtained a grant to open the advocacy resource center.

Olsen discovered that last year's camp helped students improve in academics and communication at their schools and also develop new friendships and networks.

"It helps to develop their self-esteem," he said.

n Contact reporter Maggie O'Neill at or 881-1219.

Communication Arts Day Camp

When: 9 a.m.-2 p.m., July 25-29, Aug. 1-5

Where: Carson High School, Mills Park, other areas

Cost: Free

register: Call Gary Olsen at 887-1060 or e-mail him at deafadvocate4nv2@sbc


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment