Our local deaf children’s society was recently offered an exciting opportunity of an event for our deaf children and young people.
Rampworx Skatepark, in Liverpool, (www.rampworx.com) is the UK’s largest indoor skate park and they offered to open up one evening exclusively for us! The owner Ian Robinson wanted our children to experience all they could offer in the safety of a private session (everything on wheels in there moves fast and with little warning on a regular night!!).
This meant we could take everyone from some of our younger members and novices who had never tried out skateboards, rollerblades, scooters or bikes to some of our teens group who were already proficient and really quite skilled in using the equipment.
Our group is always keen to try out new activities and trips to bring our deaf children and their families together so we jumped at the chance. Getting in touch with them to organise the details was the start of what proved to be a great experience.
From the first conversation the team at Rampworx made it clear that they wanted it to be the best possible experience it could be for our children and young people. Their first comment was that they had been looking at their safety/skate etiquette video (which everyone needs to watch and understand before they can be let loose on wheels around the large and assorted ramps) and realised it wouldn’t be accessible to all of our participants as it didn’t have subtitles. They held their hands up and asked how we could get round this. Easy, we would have adults who can sign who would repeat the content of the video in sign.
During the arranging of the logistics for the visit we offered to visit the skate park ahead of the event to speak to the coaches who would be working with the children and young people to talk over basic deaf awareness. They quickly accepted our offer and when the night for our pre-visit came around they made sure both Ian and another manager were free to talk to us for a substantial amount of time before getting three of their coaches to leave the ramps on a busy Friday night session to talk to us as well. Everyone wanted to learn as much as they could to make the night enjoyable, and safe, for our kids.
The night of our evening at the skate park arrived, our deaf children and young people were beyond excited. They had been waiting for this night since it had been first mentioned. It was a true family affair with brothers, sisters and cousins coming along too.
The evening was amazing, everyone had a great night trying out all the different forms of travelling on wheels up and down ramps which made the mums blanche and look away but which the kids and the dads loved and whooped their way down. Despite a few bumps and bruises we escaped injury free and with the kids counting the days until they can visit again.
What made the night such a success was the commitment of the Rampworx team to learning about deafness and what they could do to make their communication with our deaf children, young people and adult parents successful. Their whole attitude was summed up by one of the staff coming up to me part way through the evening to check that his part of the introduction and safety talk had been ok for everyone- he wanted to double check that he had been clear, accessible and hadn’t in any way offended anyone.
In a world where it can be difficult to get people to be deaf aware Rampworx gets a massive thumbs-up for being so up for making the effort and giving our kids the time and consideration to ensure they had the night of their lives!
Tamsin Coates trained and worked as a Speech and Language Therapist for over 10 years. Her training came in useful when she had two sons who are profoundly deaf. She now juggles being a mum to three lively children, writing, running the Wirral Deaf Children’s Society (with her friend Lisa) and raising awareness regarding deaf issues wherever she can.
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