We run a regional project in Birmingham, for integrated groups of deaf and hearing young people. Through innovative drama activities we offer creative opportunities for young people to build confidence, independence, self-esteem, strong integrated communities and to improve their skills.
The expensive communication support needed, and prejudice from some hearing peers, excludes many from positive experiences in other drama/youth groups. Communication difficulties and low confidence make independent travel a barrier
James, one of the current deaf club members told us: ‘Apart from having being profoundly deaf, I am wheelchair bound due to Cerebral Palsy, which at times has made me feel worthless. I have, thanks to the support and dedication of the Leaveners, for the first time in my life been able to find an inner confidence, which has enabled me to fully express myself. Being a part of the Leaveners make me feel important. ’
The integrated nature of the group (half deaf, half hearing) is crucial in enabling deaf young people to become proud of their deaf identity, as well as confident, relaxed and creative in working and communicating with hearing friends. Tom, another club member says: ‘We all have fun together at the same time as learning new things. I can be proud being a deaf person in the group. ’
Our innovative accessible drama style uses physical theatre, mime, sign song and dance. Drama has a special part to play in increasing confidence and communication skills, and building strong friendships through working as a team to put on a show – Gem and Becky both enjoy this aspect of the club: ‘It helps me build up my confidence in meeting new people, making new friends. Also I love taking part in plays! ’ ‘I have learnt so much about friends, working together and drama. The drama is always different, very hard work but good fun especially when we put on a production. ’
We raise expectations – three deaf club members have gone on to study drama at university – and offer training and work experience to club members as they get older and develop into leaders. Patrick, a club member who sits on the Leaveners Management Committee, says: ‘It has given me an interest into drama which I have followed into college and has also improved my public speaking’
The Leaveners makes a positive difference to the lives of deaf young people. Another club member recently told us: ‘this Saturday drama group has had a big impact on my life! The people I now know as my friends. . . Have changed the way I see my deafness in so many ways - I used to be ashamed, but now - I am what I am! ’.
Registered Charity Number: 292499
Phone number: 01214140099View charity accounts on the Charity Commission website