CSDHH is recruiting mentors and students for a mentoring program for deaf children. Activities will begin this fall during the new school year.

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Greensboro, N.C. -- There is a large community of people in the Triad who are deaf and hard of hearing. And there's a new mentoring program for deaf children that you can help with.

Timothy Hodges with the Communications Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and Isaac Starnes, a sophomore at UNCG joined WFMY News 2's Tracey McCain on the Good Morning Show, Thursday to talk about the program. Mark Lineberger interpreted the conversation.

Hodges started off by explaining what the non-profit CSDHH does for the community. "The focus is on Guilford County. CSDHH provides a variety of different services including sign language interpreting, advocacy, Computer Assisted Realtime Captioning –CART and also sign language classes. The next session will be starting in June," explained Hodges.

CSDHH is working on a new program called, TAG which stands for Teamwork, Alliance and Guidance. "It's a mentoring program where we really want to focus on deaf and hard-of-hearing students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Some of the goals are mentoring with adults and students for self-identity, possibly providing tutoring services and some other activities after school," explained Hodges.

About 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children in the U.S. are born deaf or hard-of-hearing. Nine out of every 10 children who are born deaf are born to parents who can hear.

Hodges say mentors are needed because of all of the struggles deaf and hard-of-hearing children can experience. "Communication difficulties can cause social isolation. Development of self-identity can be strengthened with exposure to incidental learning in an environment where communication is not a barrier," he said.

Starnes, who is a student in the Deaf Education program at UNCG explained why he volunteers. "I am preparing to work with kids who use many different communication styles and I feel like this would be a really good opportunity to be involved with younger deaf and hard-of-hearing students in the community and get some one-on-one working experience outside of the classroom," said Starnes.

And he encouraged others to do the same. "A lot of hearing individuals are not comfortable interacting with the deaf and hard-of-hearing; this is a great opportunity for mentors and the students help make connections. Both will learn and gain experiences while merging two very different cultures together," he said.

Mentors who apply for the program have to be 18 or older and know how to speak American Sign Language. They need to be familiar with deaf culture and have a flexible schedule during after-school hours or weekends. Volunteers need to have their own transportation.

The program starts soon. CSDHH is recruiting mentors and students over the summer and official activities will begin this fall with the new school year.

People who are interested in applying may contact CSDHH on the web at www.csdhh.org or by calling 336-275-8878. The video phone number is 336-542-3981.

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