Erin takes on the world at the WFDYS Junior Camp !
Erin Davies spent six days in April this year at the World Federation of the Deaf Youth Section (WFDYS) Junior Camp on Phillip Island, Victoria with help from a Life Enrichment Grant from Deaf Services Queensland.
Deaf Services Queensland provides Life Enrichment Grants of up to $3,000 during two intake periods each year. Life Enrichment Grants enable members of the Deaf community to achieve their goals, whether recreational, career-oriented or personal wellbeing. For Erin, the funds allowed her to take part in the camp, which focuses on bringing Deaf and hard of hearing people from different backgrounds and different cultures together to discuss Deaf equality and unity.
This year, the Camp focused on the on the four values of knowledge, passion, courage, and belonging. Presenters on each subject from the United Kingdom, Finland, New Zealand, and the United States attended to share their experiences.
Of these values, it was the presentation from Angela Maria Nardolillio, from the United States, which particularly resonated with Erin as the topic of courage and passion to help others reflects Erin’s long term goals. Ms Nardolillio had experienced abuse, and talked about turning her vulnerability into courage through Taekwondo. She now works with the program ‘Off the Grid’ in Haiti to empower Deaf people who are vulnerable.
The experience of learning from Ms Nardolillio, and the other speakers has fuelled Erin’s desire to advocate, promote Deaf issues, assist the community, and make people see that Deafness is not a barrier - that there is no limit to what can be achieved.
‘I want to be a teacher,’ Erin says. ‘Primary and Auslan. Deafness Awareness starts in schools with young children, this is an opportunity to teach awareness and it can grow as the children grow.’
Another great aspect of the WFDYS Junior Camp was the opportunity to network with Deaf people from around the world to see what they had achieved in their own countries.
‘There was one girl from Norway, who was a weightlifter and had won many awards and achievements, there were also a lot of Deaf athletes and sports people showing there is no limit no matter what country you live in’ shared Erin.
The interaction with other camp attendees was as much of a learning experience for Erin as the presentations.
‘There were lots of questions like, “what is the Australian sign for this?” and “what kind of foods do you eat?” We even had a Cultural Night where everyone wore traditional clothes and talked about their country’ says Erin.
Everyone at the camp had some experience with International Sign Language and everyone knew English. Erin also learnt a lot of new American Sign Language signs. The camp helped to teach her to change her style of communication and to adjust to different personalities because all participants’ experiences of life, perspectives, and education were different.
Erin shared that she feels younger Deaf people often don’t see the importance of coming together, but should really value the idea of Deaf youth uniting, advocating and sharing different perspectives amongst themselves and the older Deaf generations.
Erin’s family have noticed that she is more confident and has a different perspective after the camp. She is more willing to get involved; the camp was great for her to be involved in. It was very focused on achieving and learning through communication and interacting whereas they believe Australian camps are often more focused on sport and getting active.
Erin thanked Deaf Services Queensland for their support saying, ‘if it wasn’t for the Life Enrichment Grant through Deaf Services Queensland I wouldn’t have been able to go to the camp because the cost of registration flights and travel.’
Erin is now that much closer to her personal and professional goals, stating ‘it was valuable that this camp was focused on raising topics through interaction, I felt more empowered through communication and discussion.’
Erin recorded a short vlog back in March before attending the World Federation of the Deaf Youth Section Junior Camp, you can watch it here.