Saturday 21 September 2019

WATCH: 'What dreams are made of' - heartwarming moment children sign 'We Wish You A Merry Christmas' with deaf friend

Children from An Mac Leinn Beag in Kiltimagh, Co Mayo signing 'We Wish You A Merry Christmas'
Children from An Mac Leinn Beag in Kiltimagh, Co Mayo signing 'We Wish You A Merry Christmas'
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

This is an example of inclusion at its best.

It’s the moment where a class of Irish montessori children perform a Christmas song through sign language along with their four-year-old classmate Eoghan, who is profoundly deaf.

The group of four-year-olds from An Mac Leinn Beag in Kiltimagh, Co Mayo, have been learning Irish sign language (ISL) this year.

And this week, they performed “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” through sign language.

Orla Freeman, Eoghan’s mother who posted this video online, described the moment as “what dreams are made of”.

“This is inclusion, where everyone is given equal access to learn and children with ability can learn from those with disability and vice versa.”

Eoghan sees his ISL tutor twice a week at the montessori, while the other children also learn by observing and with the support of the montessori’s owner Mary and their teacher Julie. 

"It’s what [the teachers] give to it, they try to use it at every opportunity. If they don’t know a sign they’ll ask Tara the tutor for that sign.”

“Every week the parents receive a video of the signs that the children will have learnt during the week. These children are going to grow up with Eoghan in the same town and I don’t think they even see the difference with Eoghan and that’s inclusion isn’t it. Where everyone just grows up together and learns together.”

“Each morning my heart melts as I catch a glimpse of the way they communicate so effectively and affectionately with Eoghan.”

When Eoghan was born profoundly deaf and his parents were told a cochlear implant wouldn’t be of benefit to him, Orla admits they feared for his future. 

“As a parent you worry whether he’ll fit in as he gets older. This is the first time he’s started school with children of his own age, and to see him on the same level as children on the stage is amazing.”

“Eoghan was born in November and I often think of people getting the diagnosis at Christmas and my message to them is to never give up on hope, I see where Eoghan is now and he’s only four. I see where he is now and the support he's getting and I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like when he’s 14 or 21. I don't fear for him anymore.”

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