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At arts event for deaf teens, 'Here, we are all the same'
[March 27, 2010]

At arts event for deaf teens, 'Here, we are all the same'

FORT WORTH, Mar 27, 2010 (Fort Worth Star-Telegram - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- An annual gathering for students who are deaf or hard of hearing is like a family reunion, teens said.

Nearly 500 such students from across Texas are spending two days in Fort Worth for workshops with artists, actors and dancers. Along the way, they are rekindling friendships, meeting new people and hobnobbing with celebrities.

The 20th annual event, which continues through today, is sponsored by Imagination Celebration Fort Worth, a nonprofit organization that provides art and cultural experiences to young people.

For the first time, all workshop presenters are deaf, as part of this year's Spotlight on Deaf Artists theme. On Friday, students attended workshops on topics such as African dance, yoga and graphic art at Tarrant County College's Trinity River Campus.

In an acting class, deaf actress Deanne Bray showed students behind-the-scenes footage from the TV show Sue Thomas F.B. Eye, on which she had the title role.

Students moved rhythmically to drumbeats in a hip-hop dance class taught by Fred Beam, co-founder of The Wild Zappers, a well-known deaf dance troupe.

Deaf youths can sometimes feel isolated at school or in their communities, where they might have few deaf peers. So students said they look forward to the annual event, where everyone can communicate. In between, they often keep in contact via text messages, e-mail and video phones, teens said.

"We can have a hard time becoming involved because of the language barrier," said Rebekah Farley, 17, a junior at Western Hills High School in Fort Worth. "Here, we are all the same. We become a family and become really close." It is important to expose deaf students to role models, especially as arts programs are being reduced because of budget cuts, said Tyrone Giordano, a deaf actor who has performed on Broadway, on television and in film.

"This is something I wish I had as a kid," said Giordano, 33, of Los Angeles. "I wish this weekend was longer. It is a series of activities, but I sense the kids are starved for communication, conversation and guidance." A weekend highlight is a Friday evening dance.

"We bring huge speakers for the dance, subwoofers that magnify the sound of the music for them," said Ginger Head, Imagination Celebration executive director. "It makes it vibrate." JESSAMY BROWN, 817-390-7326 Looking for comments? To see more of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to Copyright (c) 2010, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Texas Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. For reprints, email [email protected], call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.

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