On Tuesday, April 19th, Convo Relay from Pleasanton, CA made an very exciting announcement on Facebook about their 48-hour Challenge.
The 48-Challenge is calling for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing students between ages 8 and 18 years old to post a video using American Sign Language to answer to the question : “What is your dream and why?”
Each student must create a 1-minute or less video to be posted on Facebook’s wall, with a tag Convo and to use #ToSignIsHuman hashtag when posting the video on Facebook wall.
Two winners will be selected by the panel of judges from LEAD-K, and the winners will be given a roundtrip flight ticket to Burbank, Los Angeles with a parent/guardian of the winner. Convo Relay provides flight tickets and meals, and Convo Relay partnered with LEAD-K for lodging, and Nyle DiMarco Foundation for the Dancing with the Stars tickets.
This video has over 95 thousand views and it was shared over 2,100 times within the 48-hour period. Immediately after that, almost two hundred videos were submitted!
It was the most inspiring experience to see all students from ages 8 to 18 sharing their dreams in beautiful American Sign Language. Kelby Brick from Maryland succinctly wrote on his Facebook page:
Hats off to #Convo and #Nyle DiMarco Foundation for inspiring the numerous #ToSignIsHuman videos that we are seeing from teens and young children.
The brilliance. The passion. The language sophistication.
I have very gifted children so you would think I am jaded but when I see those videos, I’m astounded and excited by the brilliance, sophistication and complexity of their ideas and language.
They are living proof that of the research that has long proved bilingualism enables people to reach higher levels of intelligence and language development than monolingualism.
Veditz said over a century ago that “As long as we have deaf people on earth, we will have sign [language].”
I only wish parents of newly identified Deaf and hard of hearing babies could see those videos.”
Then 48-hours had passed, and today, three judges from LEAD-K reviewed the massive amount of videos. Many videos did not provide any identifying information about which schools these students are attending.
The judges selected two winners and they are Savannah Brown and Hiruni Hewapathirana.
Savannah Brown is nine years old, and her dream is to become the first deaf female U.S. President.
Hiruni Hewapathirana is ten years old, and her dream is to become a heart surgeon.
These two girls presented themselves so well with so much confidence, with passion, and oh my goodness, expressing themselves in American Sign Language with grace!
I agreed with the judges’ decision.
And… there is more….
Few hours later, it was discovered that Kendall Demonstration Elementary School (KDES) posted on their Facebook.
That was purely coincidental! The judges has NO idea that these two wonderful girls are from the SAME SCHOOL at SAME GRADE! Even more, they are BFFs!
It is so important to notice that Kendall Demonstration Elementary School is located at Gallaudet University! That is WHERE Nyle DiMarco graduated in 2013 with a degree in Mathematics!
It is like a full circle!
This 48-Hour Challenge purpose was to prove the general public our Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing children do have their dreams to succeed, and they are bilinguals, fluent in American Sign Language and English.
This project was transpired from infamous Meredith Sugar’s open letter to Washington Post on April 1st. This open letter was posted on Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing’s website. As of today, this letter was never published in Washington Post. For more information, please read my blog entry about this infamous letter.
It is our hope to dispel the myths about deafness and spread the word that deaf children can hear and talk. What it means to be “deaf” has changed.
That letter caused a very strong reaction from the Deaf Community, and few days later, Gallaudet University’s President Roberta “Bobbi” Cordano wrote a powerful statement about the benefits of American Sign Language.
We are at a new juncture in history, in which the critical mass of scientific discoveries allows us to state conclusively that there is no need to choose between languages – it is better to choose both languages. We now know that the need for ASL has not decreased, but is greater and more urgent than ever in order for deaf children to gain all possible biological, cognitive, and language advantages. Offering a deaf child both ASL and English, spoken and written, is the greatest gift anyone can give to that child, to the child’s family, and to our world.
It is really awesome.
I cannot wait to catch the glimpse of two bright-eyed young girls watching Nyle DiMarco and Peta Murgatroyd dancing on the television. DiMarco and Murgatroyd will be performing the iconic dance from the movie called The Mask with Jim Carrey.
Two girls from KDES at Gallaudet University watching Gallaudet’s Alumni dancing.
That is sweet.
Take that, Sugar.
Sweet revenge, indeed.
Amy Cohen Efron
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