ASL performance, wristband sales raise more than $1K

North Kitsap High School American Sign Language students Signing for Change concert - Contributed
North Kitsap High School American Sign Language students Signing for Change concert
— image credit: Contributed

POULSBO — When members of Signing for Change donated $200 worth of clothes and about $80 worth of toiletries to StandUp for Kids, Executive Director Josephine Clark thought that’s all she would see from them.

“I did not anticipate them to take it any further,” she said.

But the North Kitsap High School American Sign Language students and teacher Karen Johnston, the creators of the Signing for Change project, weren’t done.

After rehearsing with participants in Life Skills — a program for people 18-21 years old with various disabilities that prepares them to be more independent — the group put on a performance June 9. The performance, which included students signing to music, was done in front of an estimated 300-plus audience.

The performance, combined with “Signing for Change” wristband sales, raised more than $1,000. As of Wednesday, the money was still being counted. Prior to the performance, Johnston estimated approximately $1,500 would be raised.

The money will be distributed to the Kitsap chapter of StandUp for Kids, a program to help homeless teens based in Bremerton, and the Pazapa Center for Handicapped Children in Jacmel, Haiti.

Johnston described the performance as “amazing.” In an email, she said more than 300 people attended — possibly close to 400. About 80 people performed.

Clark was asked to say a few words at the church. She reiterated by saying she had never seen “youngsters or any other group for that matter, come up with a plan and bring it to fruition so quickly and so well.”

Because StandUp typically receives most of its donations during the winter holidays, she was grateful to see the Signing for Change event happen in spring.

Clark hopes those in the audience saw what Signing for Change did and will be inspired to do something for the community.

“I don’t think they’ve finished,” Clark said of the project. “This is just the beginning.”

StandUp for Kids provides approximately $600 every month to provide food to those in need. About 180 snacks are provided per day around the county and 21 kids are being fed three meals a day on the weekend. In the Poulsbo area, about 150 homeless kids have been identified.

More than a week before the performance, sophomore Emily Calder told the Herald she did not realize the scale of homelessness in Kitsap. After her and the rest of the students were given statistics, she said “It seems crazy. There are so many homeless people … we didn’t even know.”

On June 9, a speech written by Emily was given prior to the performance. The speech described the approximate 140 students involved in ASL having “a vision for a better tomorrow, which started when we heard statistics about the huge amounts” of need in the community.

“We hope that ‘Signing for Change’ will be a chain reaction,” a copy of the speech reads. “We hope that the good deeds that we have started will spread to the rest of you and realize that one small deed can help out in a huge way.”


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