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A short play by a young person showing all the Deaf people in the world coming together

Adapting to Corona-times: meet our Deaf Youth Theatre!

Hello! My name is Steph, I am fabulously Deaf, and I am extremely privileged to be the leader of Taking Flight Theatre’s Deaf Youth Theatre based in Cardiff, Wales.

Thanks to the wonderful BBC Children in Need, the Ashley Family Foundation and the Moondance Foundation we were able to set this up back in January and our achievements so far have been amazing. We have three classes full of (I am slightly biased) the most awesome D/deaf and hard of hearing young people and our Saturdays creating theatre, playing games, learning new skills, and having fun are always the highlight of my week.

But then, of course – Coronavirus decided to get in the way. This was heart-breaking for me, so soon after we had got everything up and running, we had to close everything down for the health and safety of everyone involved. Without our regular Saturday meetings, we turned (as many others have) to online means of staying connected.

Myself (Steph) and Anna (Assistant facilitator) have been busy creating videos to share with the young people via our Facebook page. These include explanations of a variety of art and theatre activities that our young people can do at home; all videos are in British Sign Language and have captions (we love all things accessible!) and these are emailed out to parents as well for those who don’t have access to Facebook. We have also released videos about wellbeing as there is so little information out there about self-care in British Sign Language compared to what there is available in spoken and written English. Additionally, we stay connected to other theatre companies and are promoting their work on our page if it is both accessible and something that we think our young people will like.

Pictured is a screenshot from one of Steph and Anna’s videos; in this one they demonstrated a drama game together that our young people can easily do at home with their families.

Another thing that we are doing is online “Catch-Ups!” – these are an opportunity for our young people to meet up online with their groups to see how everyone is doing, say hello to our friends and also play some fun drama games. It has certainly been an interesting challenge to try to adapt some of our most loved games to the online world!

A post on Facebook about Steph video conferencing, reading: Steph is so excited for our zoom catch ups this morning, who is joining us?

Pictured is an image of Steph, excitedly posing with her thumbs up just before one of the online “Catch-up!” sessions.

Taking Flight recently tweeted: “Studies show Deaf youngsters more likely to suffer from mental ill health than hearing peers. Compound this with inaccessibility to COVID info for Deaf people increasing stress levels. #NeverMoreNeeded work building Deaf children’s resilience like our #YouthTheatre” – and I couldn’t agree more. I, myself have struggled with my mental health, especially when I was younger due to many communication barriers. Theatre really helped me through it; and being able to share my love for theatre in a completely fun, welcoming, and accessible way with our wonderful D/deaf and Hard of hearing young people; both in our sessions and online due to Covid-19 is an absolute honour!

And lastly, we still have some spaces left! Are you D/deaf/Hoh, aged 4-18 and interested in being part of our Deaf Youth Theatre once lockdown is finished? Check out our Facebook page “Taking Flight Youth Theatre” and email Steph at [email protected] for more information. Stay safe everyone!

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