‘Signing Santa’ offers hope to deaf & hard of hearing community in Baton Rouge
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Imagine sitting on Santa’s lap and he asks you what you want for Christmas, but you can’t understand what he’s saying.
It happens every year for children who are deaf.
But a “Signing Santa” changes the narrative for so many kids in the community.
“So there’s quite a few kids out there that appreciate being able to talk to a Santa they can communicate with,” said Santa Claus, known as Mike Owens.
The Santa at Pastime Restaurant every year is a lot different than your typical Kris Kringle.
“I wish the real Santa from the North Pole was here,” said Conrad Mays.
Okay, well not that different.
This Santa is able to communicate with the deaf and hard of hearing community here in our area, using American Sign Language.
“You know, I have passion, we have passion and we hope to motivate that in them. And that they have a community to belong too,” said Megan Wimberly, a teacher at Louisiana School for the Deaf.
The event is put on every year by the organization Geaux Sign.
“It’s very important. I feel like many of us who are deaf in the community don’t have this kind of space growing up, this family friendly environment,” said Natalie Delgago, with Geaux Sign.
While this ‘Signing Santa’ lives in Georgia most of the year, he taught at the Louisiana School for the Deaf for 15 years.
“Either it’s former students or teachers I worked with. It’s great to visit with them, and talk with them and see how they’re doing,” said Owens.
“It’s important for them to see deaf role models, so they can see that we’re similar,” said Wimberly.
People say the joy on these children’s faces when they realize that Santa understands them, is what this event is all about.
“It’s about hope, it’s about belief. It’s about feeling good about yourself and knowing someone cares about you. That’s what it’s all about,” said Owens.
The Geaux Sign group will keep this tradition going again next year.
And hopes to bring back more community events in the future.
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