Boys and Girls Clubs of the Sequoias teaching American Sign Language to kids

IVANHOE, Calif. (KFSN) -- 8-year-old Sophia learned American Sign Language at the Boys and Girls Club in Ivanhoe.

"It was fun for me but I don't know about the other kids," she says.

In February, Unit Director of the Ivanhoe site, Estrella Ramos, says she wanted to engage her students in a program that would benefit them long term and slowly began teaching them sign language.

"I would say, 'Hey guys I want you to reply in sign language', and when they started doing it, they had questions and I thought I am going to start the program, they seem interested," Ramos says.

They work with about 25 students on a regular basis, which is less than half of their average class prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ramos says it was important for her to make the lesson mandatory for all of them and says some students were more intrigued than others.

"Some of my members like Sophia and her cousin really wanted to learn so that pushed me. They were interested and I am having fun teaching it," she says.

For Sophia, learning ASL had a deeper meaning.

"I liked it because I can talk to my tio (uncle)," she says.

One of her uncles is deaf and she surprised him with her new skills.

Ramos hopes this will set her up for a stronger relationship with her uncle.

"For her to use that with her family, that is what we want, we want to teach our members things they can use in real life," says Ramos.

Ramos hopes to inspire her students and encourage their aspirations for the future.

"They can get out and make a difference in their community that they probably didn't know before," she says.

Ramos tells me they currently paused ASL classes but will continue teaching them this summer.

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