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American Sign Language:  ASL Clubs

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HOW TO HAVE A SUCCESSFUL ASL ACTIVITY

Here are some principles of success:

Each time the club sets up an activity, you should choose a chairperson for that activity. The chairperson should be someone who is PERSONALLY excited about the activity and would enjoy doing it even if he or she were the ONLY person in attendance.

For example, suppose the club is hanging out and someone mentions that it would be fun to go to Zoo. Then the idea gets on an agenda, everybody seems to think it would be fun, and gets approved as an activity. It should ONLY get approved if there is at least ONE person who is VERY excited about doing it and is willing to accept TOTAL responsibility for its
success. That person would choose a date that is:

1. Personally convenient for him or her.
2. Reasonably convenient for everybody else in the world.

Then that person would develop the mindset that "I'm going to go to the Zoo and have a great time. I just happen to be inviting the whole Sign Language Club to join me. If they want to come have a great time WITH me, they are WELCOME to do so.

This mindset is the reason my ASL trips to Disneyland are so successful. Each year I take the mindset that I am going to Disneyland and have a great time. If anyone else wants to come with me they are welcome to go. Then I work my tail off to make it happen.
Let's continue our discussion of the Zoo activity. So, now we have a person who has decided that she really wants to go to the Zoo. She is elected chair of the Zoo Activity. The meeting might go something like this:

SLA Chair: Okay, next item of business on our agenda is the Zoo trip. Amy, this is your item, would you please talk about this item?

AMY: Yes! I want to go to the Zoo this summer and thought it would be a great activity for the Sign Language Club. Deaf people can get in free and for each deaf person, we can have one free escort (hearing person). Typically what happens is we all show up and the group leader goes to the ticket booth and reminds the operator that this is the deaf group that was
scheduled for the day. The operator says, "Tell them the line up." Then they open the gate and we all file in. I would be willing to chair a committee.
[Note: Check your local Zoo's policies ahead of time!]

SLA President: That sounds fun, what type of resources would you need from the Club?

Amy: I would need flyers, classroom reps, a calling tree, and a van.

SLA President: Any discussion?

Cindy (Treasurer): We don't have the money to rent a van, couldn't we just carpool?

Bill (Advisor): I think carpooling is a good idea, also could we charge money for non-members of the club? For example $2 for non-members and FREE for members?

[The President lets this go on for a bit then stops the discussion]

President: Okay it sounds like something most of us support, do I hear a motion to accept this as an official activity of the Club with Amy as chairperson?

Cindy: So move.

President: Is there a second?

Amy: Second

President: All in favor?

ALL: <hands raised>

President: Looks like it passes. Amy when would it be convenient for you to have committee meetings? How about at the Saturday morning breakfast?

Amy: Yes that will work for me.

President: Fine then, Amy, if you would please pass around a sheet of paper, write at the top:
"Zoo Trip Committee," Put yourself at the top as chair, then those of you who personally want to go to the Zoo put your name, phone number, and address. If you want to help Amy organize the activity then put a star by your name.

Fred: Doesn't she already have our addresses on the membership list?

President: Yes, but a moment of your time writing your personal information saves her the hassle of having to look it up and makes it more likely she will actually contact you and get you involved.

[The president then puts the Zoo trip on the agenda for the next general meeting.]

-------------------------------------- ---

Then Amy goes about the process of organizing and advertising the activity. She gets an Activity Planning Sheet, checks the state Association for the Deaf Calendar and local Community Center for the Deaf Calendar for an open date, then she does the following things to
the BEST of her ability:

1. Create a flyer that clearly states: Who, what, when, where, how, how-much, what for, how long, how to get there, how to get more information, and--if necessary--a map.

2. Create a mini-flyer containing all of the above information. Preferably this flyer will be an eighth of a sheet of paper and a small stack of them can be carried in her pocket to hand out to everyone she meets between now and the event.

3. Write a news release and email it to the Advisor. The news release would state something to the effect of: News release: The Sign Language Club is hosting a no-voice trip to the (specific name) Zoo on
August 16th. Friends and family members of people who are deaf are invited to participate. For more information contact Amy Smith at 916-555-1234 or Bill Vicars at 916-555-6779. [The advisor will then fax or email it to the local newspapers for publication.]

4. Submit the information to the local school newspapers and any school Radio Stations.

5. Contact as many high school and college sign language club Presidents as you can and have them submit the information to their school newspapers.

6. Meet with the High School Presidents at the ASL breakfast and hand them a stack of flyers.

7. Contact the sign language instructors at the various schools throughout the state. (This might require a concentrated effort of calling the schools and finding out who their instructors are and their addresses and email.)

8. Contact the editor of your state newsletter for the deaf, submit the activity as a flyer and pay for it. [Prior to submitting any flyer to any newspaper you ought to clear it with the Advisor.]

9. Show up in every sign language class taught at the local university and tell the students about the activity.

10. Send or take a flyer to the State School for the Deaf.

11. Have a committee get-together at someone's house. (Invite anyone who wants to come, but remind them that this is to discuss and promote the Zoo trip activity.)

Do a potato bar or whatever, and invite a few deaf people. Have them bring their phone list. Make sure there is a tty available and then everybody take turns calling all the members of the Club and any deaf people you can think of to let them know about the activity.

12. Work with the Club newsletter person and see to it that the Activity gets put in the newsletter and or a special mailing to ALL the members.

13. See to it that details of the activity are E-mailed to everybody who might possibly be interested.

14. Take a group of Club members and a stack of flyers with a few rolls of tape and or a stapler and "plaster" the campus with flyers. Warning: Don't put flyers on any painted surfaces, or any doors. (Some painted walls may already have plenty of flyers on them--use your head and make a judgment decision as to the appropriateness of posting. The point is, don't cause any damage or cause any inconvenience.)
If you have five or six people and about a hundred flyers and each person has some tape you
can get done in a very short period of time!
A good time to do this is after the breakfast on Saturday mornings.
Such flyers, in addition to advertising the Hogle Zoo trip, should include an ad for the Saturday
morning breakfast and also any currently available classes, for example, any free classes being
offered.

A final thought in regards to hosting successful activities:  The presidency and board of directors of the Club should subscribe to the local Deaf newspapers, magazines, online groups, and "listservs." They should also try to include as many Deaf as possible in the planning process.

Good luck. Work hard. Have fun!

Dr. Bill Vicars

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