Deaf teens aim for success

Deaf teens aim for success

By Zach Markovic, [email protected]

April 24, 2010

They might have been speaking with their hands, but the message was loud and
clear: “We want to succeed.”

Success and inspiration were among the many messages at the Deaf Action
Center’s 2010 Teen Leadership Summit for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Girls on
Thursday at the Plano Centre.

This is the 13th year for the girls’ summit; one for boys is set for the
fall. The Dallas-based Deaf Action Center has multiple locations across
North Texas. Angela Johnson Fischer, executive director of the center, said
each year it holds the event in a different location as a way to reach as
many students as possible. This year, almost 250 girls attended the summit.

“Today is about celebrating successful deaf women, so girls all over North
Texas come here and are able to see someone who has succeeded,” Fischer
said. “A lot of times, these girls cannot participate in other group
activities. This is the one event that is especially for them.”

Lauren Canfield, Plano Senior High School teacher, said events like these
are important in helping build bonds with the students. She teaches students
who are deaf or hearing-impaired. She said the summit helps them see there
is a larger deaf community out there than what they see in school.

“I think it is a great opportunity for the girls to come and see old friends
and make new friends at the same time,” she said. “It is a great day for
them to come and be girls together.

Those girls are looking to their future – and it is looking brighter than
ever, said Melissa Keomoungkhoun, a senior at Plano Senior. Each year the
venue is different, but the community continues to grow and each new speaker
inspires the students to not give up.

“The girls’ summit has a lot of deaf girls from the Dallas area who can see
how deaf women are successful in life, and it is like an example of what we
can accomplish as deaf people,” she said. “(The summit) is like the first
step; you want to be able to follow in their footsteps.”

This year, the footsteps they will follow are those of Maureen Klusza. The
speaker for this year’s summit is a deaf artist from California. Deaf since
birth, she credits her father, also a deaf artist, for inspiring her to
create art. She continued to draw through high school and eventually become
a successful illustrator, drawing cartoons, logos and illustrations for
various clients.

She said she just wanted to reinforce to the girls at the summit that even
though life will be tough sometimes, if they stay positive they will

“I am here to talk about my life experiences as I grew up as a deaf person,”
Klusza said. “I want to share that with these young people: that life has
its ups and downs, but they are going to be fine.”


1 comment for “Deaf teens aim for success

  1. May 2, 2010 at 1:15 AM

    I am a proud soldier of the United States Army and a very proud spouse to a beautiful woman that is deaf. My wife and I have been together for over 8 years. We have a great son. Many times I wondered how my deployments would affect her. As our relationship grew I learned that she could take care of herself and make decisions for the both of us. She has accomplished alot. She is now going back to school to get her degree. Which I am very proud of. She takes care of our son, who has learned sigh language, and uses to this day. Even though he is only 4 years old. I joke with my wife that he knows more than I do. Although our son is not deaf he is able to communicate both vocally and with sign language. My wife was born deaf. I feel that our son will have a better life than mist children because he will be able to appreciate the patience of learning. I would like to thank this organization for everything that it does and will continue to do. Thank you for your time.

    SFC Bobby Sheaffer
    United States Army

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.