For youngsters who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing (HOH), it can be especially challenging to develop relationships with their peers and engage in social activities, but the experience of communicating and connecting is an important part of countering feelings of social isolation. It is important for every child to engage in social and recreational activities with peers to help him or her develop a sense of self-worth and belonging.
The Saturday Program for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children and Teens held at The Children’s Aid Society’s Rhinelander Center is the only free, weekend recreational program for Deaf young people in New York City. The Saturday Program was established in 1989, after a comprehensive city-wide youth needs assessment found that there were no weekend programs for Deaf children or teens in NYC.
This program relies on support from caring donors to continue to provide these services. TransCanada, a company focused on natural gas transmission and power services, has generously donated $20,000 to help the Saturday Program reach its goals of improving communication skills, building self-confidence, enhancing social skills and promoting community involvement among Deaf young people in NYC.
On Saturday, January 22, 2011 Anthony Schonfarber, Director of TransCanada’s Ravenswood Generating Facility in Long Island City, and Sharon Scott, Community Relations Coordinator visited the program. Youth played board games with staff members as they waited for a bus to whisk them off to a special visit to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, while the parents of the participants gathered to discuss high school and college educational options for the Deaf in and near New York City. “TransCanada and the Ravenswood Generating Station are proud to have the opportunity to support such a worth cause,” explains Schonfarber. “The Children’s Aid Society Saturday Program for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children and Teens is so very important to the participating young people. It gives the kids a chance to spend time in a safe and comfortable environment, learning life skills that will help them to realize their full potential. This is a key aspect of TransCanada’s Community Investment Program…partner with the community to improve quality of life, create hope, and establish new beginnings.”
The TransCanada donation will cover the costs of recreational and cultural trips for the rest of the year. “We offer a variety of trips and activities which are so important for the young people in our program,” commented Rhinelander’s Director, Laura Colin Klein. “They don’t get to go bowling, camping or to the theater on the weekends since their families often can’t afford these activities. And, even if they could, they would not have deaf friends with them. Our participants gain a broader sense of the world, a network of friends who share their challenges and they have a lot of fun.”