The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Dreams, imagination celebrated

By Aubrie Fraham/reporter

High school students with special needs encouraged to follow dreams

Funny faces, balloons, circle games and music videos highlighted the annual Imagination Celebration April 10-11 on TR Campus.

Imagination Celebration is a safe place for high school students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Artists across the United States come to inspire students to follow their dreams.

Deaf students experience feeling music, dancing April 10-11. Photo by Heather Shannon/The Collegian
Deaf students experience feeling music, dancing April 10-11.
Photo by Heather Shannon/The Collegian

“Our kids live for it,” said Hannah Fisher, a deaf education teacher from Weatherford. “The kids come to Imagination Celebration, and it completely changes their life.”

Peter Cook, a deaf performing artist, incorporates American Sign Language, pantomime, storytelling, acting and movement into his performances. His act included having the children copy his hand signs and funny faces and telling about funny things that happened to him in school so the children could relate. In one sequence similar to the game of Telephone, Cook made a silly face at a student, then the student copied the expression to another student.

“A lot of students don’t have deaf adults in their life, so I want to teach them to play with signs and come up with their own poems because it builds their self-esteem,” he said.

Amber Galloway-Gallego, an American Sign Language interpreter, was hired to stand at the side of the stage and interpret Madonna, Paul McCartney, Lady Gaga and other musical numbers for deaf audience members. She passed out balloons for the children to hold while she played the music videos.

“The balloons increase the vibration of the sounds,” she said. “It amplifies everything. You can actually take them to concerts.”

Gallego also taught students about the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in employment, housing, education and access to public services. This law also gives deaf people the right to an interpreter at a concert.

“If you think that you do not belong at concerts, you do,” she said. “Do not let your disability get in the way. It does not define you.”

To finish her set, she interpreted “I Will Survive” with facial expressions and movements. Students were clapping and signing along with her. After the song, she asked the students how they felt.

“I feel happy when you perform and really connected with the music,” one student signed.

Gallego said many children have never felt music before seeing her perform.

“Deaf people deserve to feel the emotions in music,” she said. “You deserve to know what music is being played.”

Leaving Imagination Celebration, Odessa High School junior Josue Mata was eager to talk about Gallego.

“My favorite part was the dancing and the music,” he said. “I also liked how we were told that we do have rights even though we are deaf. We can still listen to music just like hearing people can.”

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