‘It’s the Sign of the Times’

Passionate Student Emma Childress Proposes an ASL Club at Central


Sophomore Emma Childress giving a thumbs up to incorporating ASL at CHHS (Dec. 10)

Hanna Grass, Writer

Impact. Education. Understanding. Three aspects of life sophomore Emma Childress feels passionately about and hopes to further pursue in her time as a student at Central Hardin.

In quick coverage, Childress loves to lose herself in a good book, explore the world of pop culture, and tell stories through writing and lyrical dance in ways unique to herself. She loves to stay busy, and has big goals for herself both in the near and far future. Attending college is one of these milestones along with striving for success in whatever situations life throws at her. Moreover, Childress yearns to create an impact in whatever community she currently resides in.

“I am much more of an emotional thinker,” Childress disclosed. “I want to understand how those around me live their lives…better realize my own privileges and learn to see through new perspectives.”

In this journey to understand diverse perspectives, Childress explicitly wants to expand her knowledge in the realm of communication and work towards breaking the language barriers so many individuals face around the world. ASL, American Sign Language, is one of the specific and more accessible tools in communication she hopes to dilate within the community and at CHHS.

“I read an article that talked about these two people who grew up together, one was deaf and the other was of hearing, and it just kinda made me think about how I could have that impact on someone’s else’s life,” Childress explained. She said she wants to be able to support and easily connect with people who are unable to communicate verbally, especially if the occasion arose to know them personally. “I want to be that person who they can trust and feel comfortable around.”

Although Childress said that she has no personal experience or connections with ASL, she understands that it holds a growing importance in the evolution and inclusivity of society. For those skeptical of the language’s importance, she offered up this thought: if you’re given the opportunity to learn it, why not? Our generation is ultimately responsible for passing the legacy of the language onto others in the future, and the better equipped we are, the brighter our tomorrow.

“It would make it [the community] more inclusive and help the deaf and nonverbal communicators feel more welcome and comfortable coming to Central,” Childress further elaborated.

There is a vast variety of benefits in adding ASL education at CHHS. Working to reduce anxiety and disorder for those who utilize ASL as their form of communication while at school is one of Childress’ top priorities. She believes in fostering a brighter light upon the language and its importance alongside the others taught at Central such as Spanish, French, or German. Once we start applying sign language in the classroom and our social interactions, others around us – peers, parents, teachers, siblings, etc. – will have an easy outlet to the unique form of communication. Everyone should have the resources and opportunities to learn ASL if they want, it is simply up to us to start inspiring this shift in education.

“I would hope it would be like the domino effect, spreading through the community and to other schools,” Childress analogized.

As many of you know, in order to gain support and awareness for a cause, or in this case, a language, there needs to be structure. Childress hopes to form an ASL club where kids will be provided with a curriculum to learn sign language and how they can implement it throughout their day-to-day-lives.

“We would start out with the basic level signs and learn how to carry conversation with someone through sign language,” Childress explained. “Eventually, I would love to volunteer at events with nonverbal communicators for real-world experience.”

Overall, Childress wants the club to act as a family who can grow and learn the language together, step by step, sign by sign.

In terms of making this dream a reality, Childress has been in discussion with different teachers and administrators about how to successfully build a new club. She still has many unanswered questions and unknowns about a clear plan, but hopes that within the next month or so, after Christmas break, an initial meeting will be held.

This is no easy feat to take on, especially as a student who is actively involved in so many other extracurricular activities. Right now, Childress is taking the process one step at a time, savoring the fact that an ASL club is even a possibility for Central.

“My main goal is to just get the club going and make it happen as soon as possible.”

Thinking more in the big picture standpoint, Childress hopes that the club would gain popularity and take off as a well-known group within the Bruin community in the next few years. She hopes to instill something fresh and new within the category of foreign language. She wants to make an impact.

“I hope that even after I graduate, it would be something that someone else wouldn’t mind to help lead and take interest in keeping it running,” Childress buoyantly shared.

Although the notion of an ASL club has Childress excited for the future, there is no promising that her picture-perfect plan will be established. Finding a qualified and willing adult to take on a leadership and administrative role for the club is one of the biggest challenges at this time.
Asking someone to commit their involvement towards ASL can be a difficult situation, and no one can be forced to step up. In the case that the club cannot be implemented, Childress’ next move would be to educate herself in ASL on her own time through online courses, whether that be through the rest of the school year or summer break. She hopes that this could help presume her suitable to potentially instruct the club herself the following school year. Taking the idea elsewhere really isn’t something Childress is interested or comfortable with. As a student at Central, she would like to employ the project in an environment we as students call our home. Holding the lessons during the school day in meetings like other active clubs would allow for a smooth transition and little to no extra hassle for students to participate. It just wouldn’t seem right any other way.

Coming full circle, sophomore Emma Childress has ambitious goals for the lingual education at Central Hardin, specifically in American sign language (ASL). She wants to offer a club where anyone and everyone can participate in learning how to sign and communicate smoothly with members of the deaf and nonverbal communicating population. Childress is passionate about leaving an impact in her remaining years at Central. She wants to empower, create, inspire, and educate those around her, and at this time, her focus in doing so is through an ASL club. She is so excited to see if this aspiration will become an actuality and hopes you are too.

Keep your eyes and ears open for news on new clubs and the inclusion of sign language. Big things are coming, and Childress is exhilarated to be a part of them.