Big Brothers Big Sisters receives grant from New Zealand Sign Language Fund

We are so pleased to be able to announce that a grant from New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) fund will enable us to establish a NZSL Mentoring Programme – this announcement can be viewed in NZSL in the video below.

The first phase of the NZSL mentoring project is being launched during NZSL Week 2016 as we begin to develop a programme that will connect deaf children with a mentor, using New Zealand Sign Language as the primary mode of communication.

Through this innovative project – a first in New Zealand – Big Brothers Big Sisters will extend their successful mentoring programme to an unreached group of young people, enabling deaf children and teenagers to develop strong, enduring, professionally supported mentoring relationships founded on the belief that all young people can achieve their potential in life.  Most deaf children are born to hearing parents, and a deaf child is often the only deaf person in a family. Connecting with another person like themselves, using the natural language of deaf people, creates the space to explore their identity as a deaf person, develop their confidence when communicating, and also to observe and adopt strategies commonly used by Deaf adults.

Parents of youth who have participated in Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring programmes say they see the mentoring experience as invaluable for their child, citing the growth that occurs when the child has regular meaningful contact with another adult.

Dave Marshall, the National Director, says,

“We are so excited about this initiative. Each mentoring relationship will be the start of something incredible for each deaf child who participates in the programme as they will not only benefit from the attention of someone who understands their world but will be someone who encourages them and supports them to achieve their dreams and goals”.  

Big Brothers Big Sisters has engaged ENNOBLE‘s Rachel Noble, who is Deaf herself, and Debra Bellon, a parent of a deaf child, who is familiar with the concept of sign language mentors from her work with similar programmes in the USA.

The programme has been made possible through a grant from the NZSL Fund – view the Minister for Disability Issues, Nicky Wagner’s announcement below.