Rally at City Hall Calls Attention to Children's Aid's Saturday Program for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children and Teens

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children-signing5221 Clients, providers and advocates gathered on the steps of New York's City Hall on one of the sunniest days in May to shed some light on and rally support for restoration of city budget cuts to core human service programs serving New York's most vulnerable populations - children, youth and elderly.

The Children's Aid Society was represented by key staff members of its Saturday Program for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children and Teens which takes place at the Rhinelander Children's Center, as well as by the mother of one of the children who attend the program.

The Saturday Program is the only free program for Deaf and Hard of Hearing children and teens in New York City outside of a school. Isolation is a common feeling for Deaf young people. Children's Aid's program offers an opportunity for Deaf and Hard of Hearing youth to relate to peers outside of a school setting, build socialization skills and experience recreation, sports and field trips as well as attend workshops in relationship building, violence prevention and communication.

The Saturday Program, established in 1989, has always been funded by a mix of public and private support. The Saturday Program is one of the successful grantees of the Department of Youth and Community Development's OST Option II funding. This funding is slated for elimination in the proposed City budget. As the grandmother of a participant has written about the Program:

[My granddaughter] now realizes that her limitations are only the ones she imposes upon herself and that she really can do pretty much whatever she wants to do in her life. Although she has always been told this, the program made it a reality for her.