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Deaf parenting: tailor-made support

Following a successful pilot project, when 14 parents made history and became the first in the UK to take part in a course specifically designed for deaf parents, the Deaf Parenting Skills Course has run successfully for a second time.

The Deaf Parenting Skills Project is run and supported by Bromley, Croydon, Greenwich, Lewisham and Westminster social services deaf teams in south east London and the project also works in partnership with four voluntary organisations _ Deaf Access, Deaf Parenting UK (previously known as Deaf Parenting Project), deafPLUS and ParentLine Plus. The South East London Community Foundation (SELCF), Awards for All and Bromley Chain fund the project.

The course was free for deaf parents living in the London boroughs of Greenwich, Lewisham, Bromley, Croydon and Westminster.

The course was based at the Deaf Access Centre in Bromley and ran for 12 weeks from April 2005. Nicole Campbell, a deaf mother who is the Deaf Parenting Skills Course Co-ordinator, was responsible for the smooth running of the course, and a trainer, who is also a deaf mother, facilitated the workshops.

Nicole, who attended the first pilot course as a deaf mother and applied for the Deaf Parenting Co-ordinator role for the second pilot course, said: "Having learned a lot of new and positive parenting skills, this has increased my ability to cope with things in my personal life".

Eight parents attended the course. Their children attended the free crèche at the Deaf Access Centre, paid for by the Deaf Parenting Skills Project. The crèche was run by three workers with formal childcare qualifications, as well as a Sign Language interpreter who assisted with communication support for the deaf parents and children.

"The Deaf Parenting Skills Course has proved its success _ there is already a waiting list of deaf parents wanting to take part in a future course."

The aims of the course were to help deaf parents, regardless of their background or status, to learn skills to develop better relationships within their family, to be better parents and to make informed decisions. It aimed to give them information and skills to take care of themselves and their child(ren), to achieve their potential and to be happy.

One mother who attended the course said:

"I am pleased that the Deaf Parenting Skills Course is made available for deaf parents. I am learning a lot and feeling confident each time I attend. It is also good to know that the other mothers share the same feelings about their worries or concerns about bringing up children".

Another mother said: "It is good to have a deaf mum as a parenting co-ordinator, a role model who can empathise and give support if or when needed".

As part of continuing peer support, a two-hour session at the Adventure Kingdom in Bromley was booked for the parents and children. The Adventure Kingdom is a large indoor play centre, filled with ball ponds, slides, an air mountain and much more.

Parents from the first pilot course were also invited along. One parent said: "The trip was a fantastic idea, a good opportunity for the parents to meet up for coffee whilst the children are playing in a safe and secure environment."

The Deaf Parenting Skills Course has proved its success – there is already a waiting list of deaf parents wanting to take part in a future course.

Deaf Parenting UK will take the lead on the Deaf Parenting Skills Project and hopes to roll out more courses across the country. If you are interested in taking part, contact: Deaf Parenting UK, c/o Mouzer, Fourth Floor, Charles House, 375 Kensington High Street, London W14 8QH. Tel: 020 7471 6770

Text: 020 7471 6769
Fax: 020 7471 6768
E-mail and MSN: s.dering@disabilityserve.com
Website: www.deafparent.org.uk

Nicole Campbell

First published in Disability, Pregnancy & Parenthood international, Issue 51, Summer 2005.

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