Biloxi camp helps deaf and hearing siblings bond

By Danielle Thomas - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -  A South Mississippi camp for the deaf helped bring brothers and sisters closer together this weekend. Dozens of children spent the past three days at Camp Wilkes in Biloxi taking part in the Lions Deaf Camp.

Justin Powell, 20, and his brother Christopher, 18, are both working as camp counselors. Justin is deaf. Christopher is not. Christopher says as they grew up, he sometimes had to be his brother's interpreter.

"Sometimes like if school teachers wouldn't understand him," Christopher said. "We had trouble with interpreters sometimes. He didn't have an interpreter his entire first grade year or so. That kind of held him back a little bit."

At the Lions Deaf Camp, deaf children fished, did arts and crafts and many other fun activities along side their hearing brothers and sisters.

The staff from de l'Epee Deaf Center runs the camp.

Camp director Jamie Olson said, "We really encourage the siblings to come because a lot of the times, the children, they think 'What is wrong my sibling? Are they the only person out there like this?'"

"So we encourage the siblings to come and let them get the experience of having what it's like to live is a deaf world. It helps them to communicate better and understand the culture better."

The camp is for children ages 5 to 15.

Organizers say the purpose of the camp is to let deaf children feel that they are not alone.

"They get fellowship. That's the most important thing," said Olson. "They get to be with children like themselves, and there is no communication barriers. They are in their norm. In their environment."

The camp ended on Sunday with a big Easter egg hunt.

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