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Deaf Dance Opens National Finals Of Performing Arts Competition

Deaf Dance Opens National Finals Of Performing Arts Competition
Students of the Jamaica Christian School for the Deaf in St James perform “A mother’s Love” at the opening of the Deaf Dance Festival at the Little Theatre in Kingston on Thursday, March 30.
(Media Credit: R. Fraser)

KINGSTON (JIS) -- The National Finals of the Performing Arts Competition got under way on Thursday (March 30) at the Little Theatre in Kingston with the Deaf Dance Festival. The opening of the two-day finals saw inspiring and arousing dance pieces from various deaf institutions across the island under the theme ‘Empower to Elevate: Happy Children. Brighter Future’. Executive Director of the Jamaica Association for the Deaf, Dr. Iris Soutar, in her remarks at the opening ceremony, urged able-bodied Jamaicans to become advocates on behalf of deaf children and adults. “We invite you to become more aware of the challenges facing our deaf children. We invite you to reflect on some of the pieces and the attempts to portray some of the difficulties they face and, more specifically, challenges relating to child abuse,” she said. She said that deaf children are more at risk of abuse because many individuals believe that because they have a hearing loss they will not be able to communicate their experience.

“But this is not true; deaf children have a voice,” Dr. Soutar pointed out, while urging children to share their experiences “so that they can get support and guidance”.

Dr. Soutar lamented that many families do not appreciate the potential of their deaf children and do not make the effort to learn to communicate with them, noting that this needs to change.

The Executive Director urged the gathering to begin to see deaf children and adults as equal citizens of Jamaica.

“I challenge you this afternoon to let the change start with each of us at this theatre. Let it begin with you and me now. Don’t put it off… identify one thing that you will leave here doing differently,” she said.

The National Festival of the Performing Arts is organised by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC), an agency of the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport.