BLUE PETER: Live interview and performance on the show
On 6th May 2021 I gave an interview in BSL with the presenters on-air during the live showing of Blue Peter, followed by a short dance performance, as part of Deaf Awareness Week.
The show, which aired at 5pm on CBBC, marked my first ever live interview and performance on television. The host asked me questions which I replied in BSL, and even asked me to teach her a few dance moves. The interview was interpreted by Rachael Veazey of Deaf Explorer.
Naturally, this was a monumental opportunity for me, which I am still getting my head around even now. So how did I end up on Blue Peter?
It started early last year, when the first lockdown began. I was just beginning to teach dance classes on Zoom, to Deaf and hard of hearing kids at home and in school. During lockdown, I and others feared that young Deaf children would face additional struggles that their hearing peers wouldn't, like loneliness and isolation.
When the lockdowns began, many Deaf kids were no longer able to be amongst their fellow Deaf peers at school or outside, instead, stuck at home with only their hearing family members. This amplified their struggles even more.
So in Spring last year, I was honoured to be awarded a commission by Creative Black Country which allowed me to launch my Kinetic Connectivity: Deaf Street Dance in Lockdown campaign, where I published a series of fully accessible dance tutorial videos across my social media channels every week, engaging with Deaf kids and inviting them to send in their own videos.
You can watch my dance video tutorials here: https://www.youtube.com/user/DefMotion11/videos
The video tutorial series was successful, it featured guest teacher Ariel Fung from Hong Kong, and ran throughout the summer. Following that, I was invited to teach fresh new Zoom sessions for organisations like NDCS, Deaf Explorer, and more recently, UK Deaf Sport, for their #DeafActiveOnline campaign.
By having regular sessions with young Deaf children around the UK every week, I was engaging with them in a language they could fully understand, providing them with entertainment as well as physical and educational activities.
However, I could not have anticipated the positive impact my classes have had on the individuals who took part.
One such participant, called Molly, was so inspired by my class, she personally wrote a letter to Blue Peter to request that I receive a Blue Peter Badge. Imagine my surprise when I received an email from the Blue Peter team presenting me with the badge. To learn the reason behind it, warmed my heart and truly made my day.
Shortly after that, the Blue Peter team got in touch with me again, and asked if I’d come into the studio for a live TV interview and performance, during Deaf Awareness Week. Naturally this was a huge surprise. Nevertheless, I decided to go ahead with the show, which aired on CBBC on 6th May.
A valuable lesson I learned from teaching these classes, is how important it is for Deaf kids to have role models who are there for them consistently - regularly providing motivational and enjoyable activities, encouraging them to believe in themselves, and inspiring them to overcome the challenges they face in a hearing environment, and maybe even one day become Deaf role models themselves.
I feel a huge sense of responsibility in connecting with these kids, as I know very well the difficulties they face, having been through the same experience myself.
Following the success of my Zoom dance classes, I’ve started a brand new series of classes for #DeafActiveOnline, which runs every Tuesday at 2pm. All my classes are free and any child can join, just get in touch with me or email Deaf Explorer at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.