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Deaf Aotearoa NZ & Outward Bound Continue Partnership

6 MAY 2011

Deaf Aotearoa NZ & Outward Bound Continue Partnership

As New Zealand Sign Language week enters its fifth year, Deaf Aotearoa New Zealand and Outward Bound have announced that they will continue to offer a unique Outward Bound course designed for people who are deaf or hearing impaired.

Since the course began nine years ago, over 70 New Zealanders from the Deaf community have been through it.

Outward Bound Senior Relationship Manager, Danielle Bowater said the course came about after a partnership was forged between Outward Bound and Deaf Aotearoa New Zealand.

“Every two years, up to 12 people from the Deaf community aged 18 years and over have an opportunity to attend an eight day Deaf Adventure course in the Marlborough Sounds.

“The course gives attendees the chance to really step outside their comfort zones and challenge themselves through a range of individual and team activities.

“Just like any of the other Outward Bound courses, participants get to take part in a variety of outdoor adventure activities such as sailing, kayaking, rock climbing and tramping.”

Danielle said being able to offer an Outward Bound experience to the Deaf community presented some unique challenges.

“We enlist the help of New Zealand Sign Language interpreters to assist with general communication and to enable our hearing instructors and the Deaf participants to communicate with each other effectively. Additionally, communicating in the dark is an added challenge as we have to ensure there is always a light source so that attendees can see people signing.”

For the interpreters that experience has often proven to be rewarding.

Lynx who provided interpreting services earlier this year said she gained a lot from the course.

“Interpreting at Outward Bound is a fantastic opportunity for professional development as we are immersed in New Zealand sign language for up to 16 hours a day for eight days straight. Even though our regular interpreting work is full time, such dynamic immersion in the language is rare and extremely rewarding.

“From the day the course starts we’re interpreting everything from the morning PT exercises until lights out at night.”

Danielle said while interpreters gain something from the experience, it’s the participants who benefit the most.

Craig Findsen who attended a course this year said it was ‘life-changing’.

“I made a lot of friends – the camaraderie was incredible,” he said.

“After leaving Outward Bound I felt much happier in myself and started to value my life and others more. It gave me the push I needed to get out of the house and explore the world.”

As a result, he is now planning to travel overseas and takes better care of himself by eating healthy foods and exercising regularly. The experience was so positive, that he is also hoping to return to Anakiwa at a later day to complete a longer Outward Bound course.

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