Harrow United Deaf Club’s Inspiring Youth Event
at The Bridge, Christchurch Avenue, Harrow
Harrow United Deaf Club were full of inspiration as 4 youth speakers came to share their personal journey. The event was opened by Councillor Chika Amadi who introduced herself in basic sign language and explained briefly about the importance of empowering young people to achieve their goals and overcoming barriers.
The first speaker was Ammaar Hussein, 16yrs old and is one of our HUDC Youth Committee member who shared his first experience of being involved in National Deaf Children Society’s Youth Advisory Board. He explained how being part of this initiatives gave him the confidence boost and open doors of opportunity as he met other young deaf people across UK and attended 3 vital trainings delivered by Deaf trainer, whom Ammaar found as a positive role model. On completion of his training, he represented the NDCS’s Youth Advisory Board and engaged with some young deaf people for their views on various projects including ‘Look, Smile, Chat’, improving teenagers’ understanding deafness and for deaf and hearing teens to meet up for chat; and ‘My life, my health’, enabling young people to meet and access to health services independently. Ammaar also championed the importance of volunteering, saying that it pays in six figures and that is ‘S M I L E S – Smiles’ and strongly believes in giving something back to the communities. Ammaar runs our HUDC Youth Club which takes place on the first Saturday of every month at 4pm – 6pm at The Bridge.
In recognition of his work, he is in receipt of Princess Diana Award for his youth work and is nominated for the Muslim News Award later this month. To learn more about NDCS Youth Advisory Board and how you can be involved, visit their website on: http://youngpeople.ndcsbuzz.org.uk/
The next speaker was a well-known Deaf young presenter of BBC’s Magic Hand – Ashley Kendall (21). Here, he explained his dream of being involved in TV and grabbed his chance of stardom. He came from Deaf family in Chester and his father spotted a training opportunity a few years ago organised by NDCS for deaf young people to learn about filming and media. He asked Ashley if he would be interested in attending. Ashley instantly said yes and was in awe when he arrived. The training was delivered by a well-known Deaf Production Company – Remark! They spotted Ashley’s enthusiasm and potential as a future TV presenter. From there, Ashley continued with his studies and Remark! offered him opportunity to be part of their TV projects, doing different show on ad-hoc basis. After he left college, he was instantly offered by Remark! to work with them on a full time basis – a life-changing offer that Ashley accepted.
Ashley explained that he was living with his parents until the tender age of 18yrs and took up the job offer with Remark! in London and moved to new life in London. He worked his way up and appeared on BBC’s See Hear and BBC Magic Hands. He found those roles extremely challenges, thinking of the audiences of all ages especially children as young as 2-3yrs old when doing Magic Hands. Ashley urged all young people to think of their future and to grab opportunities that come their way. He said: “If we do nothing or declined offers, then we wouldn’t go far! Grab opportunity and you will soar higher and go to new places!” He shared his love for travelling and was fortunate that together with his job as TV presenter/ reporter, he also chair the British Deaf Association’s Youth and is part of the European Deaf Youth Association, gaining useful experiences along the way.
To learn more about BDA Youth, check out their website http://www.bda.org.uk/Welcome_to_BDAYouth and their Facebook:
Hannah Whalley (22) also came from a Deaf family, shared her experience of working in a Deaf School in Fiji. She explained how she made her decision to fly out within a short space of time – she was looking for opportunity to fill the summer holiday after completing her college. It wasn’t until her dad asked her to check out a school as part of the Deaf Fiji Charity and to write a report. Hannah instantly took up the offer.
On arrival, Hannah explained the cultural shock that she experienced on arrival, women were fully covered and had their head shaved to prevent being raped – a crime so high in Fiji. What Hannah previously thought of Fiji as an ideal holiday destination, she had a real insight on the challenges in the lives of Fiji people especially deaf people living in Fiji. She explained that there was only one deaf (residential) school in Fiji that was so closed off from the world and no qualified teachers were there to teach those deaf children/ young people. Their education was so neglected and relies on volunteers from across the world to fundraise and assist when they can. This also presented further challenges for those deaf students who were so behind with their education attainment, not knowing any different.
Hannah explained that on her arrival, she was seen as an amazing, intelligent and inspirational role model – many teachers had never met a deaf educated person before. Hannah explained that the Gospel School for the deaf have adopted the American curriculum for primary school ages however this is difficult for those students who progressed to secondary school using the Fiji curriculum – creating confusion. In the relatively short time of 3 months she spent there were to work with those students at primary and secondary school within one building, she assisted with the day to day activities from 4.30am to 9pm each day in the residential unit where those children living away from their families. She provided the pastoral care and support and had to cover one of the teacher who had sudden bereavement in the family and was away for 2 months to another island. Whilst covering for the teacher, Hannah tried to teach the Fiji Deaf students English and some basic writing that took them a long time to comprehend. Hannah explained she came away with new skill of being more patient and grateful for the good education she already had. At present, she is fundraising to support the Deaf Fiji school – Gospel School for the Deaf, Fiji as they are desperate for Deaf qualified teachers and that the school doesn’t receive any government funding.
Samira Mohammed (23) was the final speaker – here she shared her experience of working with Voluntary Services Oversea (VSO) in partnership with UK Deaf charity – Deafway, supporting Deaf people living in Philippines. Here she explained how she joined VSO and the training to prepare her for her trip to Philippines and the immediate benefits of volunteering and giving back to the community. She stayed with a host family and adapted to the Philippines way of life. She spent her time supporting Deaf projects including supporting Deaf victims of domestic violence and identifying deaf people. She gave an example of a deaf person who got lost and because she couldn’t communicate at all, police found her and detained her few miles away. It took Samira and a group of volunteers to work with her, teaching her some sign languges before the victim was able to gain communication skills to explain who she is and where she was from. With the information given, the police then found her family. Samira found the whole experience an eye-opening and gained skills useful for CVs. She urges all young people aged 18-25 to consider opportunity of working with VSO for 3 months. To learn more about opportunity with VSO in partnership with Deafway, http://www.deafway.org.uk/international/the-philippines/
In appreciation of their time, all four guest speakers were presented with a certificate of thanks for their inspirational presentation. .
Asif Iqbal MBE, President of HUDC, explained: “It was a fantastic evening with powerful stories from our Deaf youth speakers. Lots of our members were inspired and asked lots of questions. For many hearing people including parents of young deaf children/ people, it was an eye-opening experience for them and gave them lots of hope, encouraging them to inspire and support their deaf children/ young people to aim higher. It is vital to work hard and grab opportunity as it comes. Everyone can do it and the only thing Deaf people can’t do is hear. It is important that we all support each other and encourage deaf children/ young people to be our future leaders.”
Councillor Amadi: “I was indeed blown away listening to members of the Deaf Club sharing their accomplishments and inspiring many more to go ahead and aspire for greater heights. The event was inspiring and eye opening to the inspiring extraordinary contributions Asif Iqbal MBE and many deaf people in our community are making. On behalf of the Council Leader, David Perry and all Cabinet members of the Harrow Council I acknowledge the amazing contribution and support Mr Asif has been giving to our Labour administration by encouraging volunteering and standing up for the vulnerable.”
“Aside, I wish to raise a motion: The Right of young adult deaf people to access medical facility unaccompanied by family members if so chosen to preserve their dignity and inspire I can do confidence in them and; accorded the right to be treated as individual.”