Deaf students celebrate International Day of Friendship

Year 8 RIDBC Thomas Pattison School students, Rima, Thomas, Kiara, and Gillian, celebrate International Day of Friendship

On Wednesday 30 July, the students at Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC) Thomas Pattison School are celebrating International Day of Friendship.

RIDBC Thomas Pattison School caters for students from Kindergarten to Year 10 who are profoundly deaf. The school provides a bilingual program where students access the curriculum through Auslan (Australian sign language) and English.

The importance of friendship is shown by Year 8 students, Thomas, Gillian, Rima and Kiara, who have all been best friends since early primary school.

“Friendship is important to me as my friends and I share the same Deaf identity,” said Gillian. “We use Auslan to chat with each other. My family are hearing and that makes having Deaf friends even more important.”

All four students agree that it’s critical to have friends who understand what it’s like to be a deaf teenager.

“Yes, friendship does mean having someone to chat, laugh and play with at school,” said Kiara. “However it also means having friends who understand the Deaf world.”

In addition to supporting the educational needs of students, RIDBC Thomas Pattison School fosters the development of the students’ self-esteem and identity through opportunities to interact with other Deaf children and staff.

“Being able to talk openly with your friends is so important - even just having people to tell jokes to and be able to have a laugh with,” said Tom.

The four emphasise that just like any other teenagers, they enjoy having people they can be silly with, too!

“The silliest thing I’ve ever done with my friends is to have a sleepover where we dressed up and used make up and wore high heels,” said Rima. “It’s fun having people you can muck around with!”

RIDBC is Australia’s largest non-government provider of services for children with hearing or vision loss, assisting thousands of children a year across Australia.  As Australia’s premier provider of training and education for professionals in the field of sensory disability, RIDBC ensures that services delivered throughout government and non-government organisations remains cutting-edge.

RIDBC relies heavily on fundraising and community support to be able to continue to make a difference in children's lives.  In order to maintain its intensive educational and research programs, the organisation needs to raise approximately $2.5 million every month.