CCArts to host summer art camp for deaf children

Bryan ShupeCulture, Summer

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CCArts Program Director Jennifer Hartz and Executive Director Melissa Paolercio are looking forward to finally have an arts camp for deaf children. The project was delayed because of COVID.

Delaware’s Center for the Creative Arts will be holding a summer arts camp specifically for the deaf. Camp Arts for All in Sign will be taught in American Sign Language.

This will be the first camp of its kind in Delaware and CCArts, in Yorklyn, has teamed up with Nemours Health and The Parent Information Center to pioneer the program.

According to CCArts’ Executive Director Melissa Paolercio, “All the credit goes to Jennifer [Hartz, the program director at the center]. Jennifer has a personal tie to the deaf community. Her daughter is deaf.”

She went on to explain that they began talking about the idea about five years ago when the two started working at CCArts. But the plans were put on hold because of COVID.

“Very early on in our partnership here, it was of interest for us to start putting out an invitation to the deaf community and have them join us here. But then the pandemic happened, and we got a little sidetracked.”

She continued saying they knew they would get back to the idea because the center’s mission is “to inspire, transform, and enrich the lives of people of all ages and abilities through the arts…We both believe in the healing power of the arts, in the power of art to transform lives and connect people.”

And she said they knew they would someday provide space for those marginalized in the community. One such group has been deaf people; teaching them arts in American Sign Language is important.

“Part of the reason is that there aren’t a lot of opportunities and language is a barrier. Not many places provide classes using American Sign Language. Very few actually have classes that are instructed by ASL fluent people or have interpreters who help,” Paolercio said.

The goal for the camp is to have a deaf artist teaching the class during the week-long camp.

“Not only are these young people allowed to come and make things be instructed their own language, but they’re also able to see someone who is a grownup who has a job. It opens your eyes to see someone like you doing something that you might be interested in doing someday,” she said. “It opens up a whole world for them.”

Hartz agrees.

“As the parent of a deaf child, I am especially proud that we are piloting this camp…I’m so excited to bring families together who have felt that they didn’t have a creative space available to them and to learn how we can build and expand access to the arts in the future.”

Camp Arts for All in Sign runs from Aug. 5 to Aug. 9, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the CCArts’ campus at 410 Upper Snuff Mill Row in Yorklyn. The camp is open exclusively to deaf children and children with hearing loss between the ages of 8 and 11. Thanks to the generosity of CCArts’ partnerships, camp tuition is just $75 for the entire week’s session. Camp financial aid is available.

Registration is now open for Camp Arts for All in Sign on the CCArts website,, in-person at the CCArts campus in northern Delaware, or by phone at 302-239-2434.

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