National Center on Deafness celebrates fourth annual Sign n’ Run festival at CSUN

Jessica Estrada

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Rain did not keep Sign n’ Run festival and fundraiser attendees from walking around campus to raise money and bring the deaf community and hearing community together. Photo Credit: Tessie Navarro / Staff Photographer

Students, friends, family and children filled the Northridge Center in the University Student Union on Sunday in celebration of deaf culture.

The National Center on Deafness (NCOD) hosted their fourth annual Sign n’ Run event and festival on Sunday.

“We’re here to celebrate deaf culture, deaf people and sign language,” said Roz Rosen, director of NCOD.

The day started off with face painting and children’s games like duck duck goose and tug-of-war. A Ronald McDonald impersonator also entertained the children with creative balloon animals put together by volunteers.

“The goal is to raise more than $10,000 as well as to bring the deaf community and the hearing community together,” said Nageena Ahmadzai, 20, undecided, and event coordinator.

The money that was raised will be used for NCOD scholarships and awards to support deaf and hard of hearing students at CSUN, she said.

What was supposed to be a five-kilometer race turned into a 30-minute walk around campus due to the rain. Participants showed dedication and grabbed their jackets and umbrellas and headed out into the rain.

Volunteers were seen wearing purple and blue shirts that read “Life, Love, Laughter, literature,” a quote by Barbara Boyd, a former CSUN professor who passed away in February.

The walk was followed by the American Sign Language and Deaf Culture Festival, which included dance performances, games, poetry readings and raffle prizes.

Martin Watkins and Desiree Love, both junior deaf studies majors, served as the event’s masters of ceremonies. Watkins joked that the name of the event had been changed to ‘Sign n’ Rain.’

Entertainment included a dance performance by senior Dani Duran, social welfare major and Ashley Griffith, 22, kinesiology major, who are part of a dance group called Thunder Underground Entertainment.

Another performance featured Miss Deaf CSUN, Janel Schmidt who gave a dance performance to Britney Spears’ “Lucky.”

John Maucere’s students also took the stage to present poetry in American Sign Language (ASL).

“We use sign language to express our poetry,” he said.

The poetry performances were not interpreted because he said the sign, movements and facial expressions must be watched.

Actress Marlee Matlin also participated in the days events and shared a bit about her experience on the NBC show ‘Celebrity Apprentice.’

There were also a few raffle prizes ranging from a $25 gift card to the 99 cents store to a $300 cash prize.

Some of the event sponsors included Purple Communications and Sprint Relay.

Volunteer Sydney Rosell, 18, deaf studies major, said she volunteered to help out in the event because she wanted to be a part of deaf culture and become more involved with deaf students here at CSUN. Rosell brought her friend Katy Wilson along. Although Wilson is a sociology major, she said she wanted to support the culture.

The event was organized mostly by students, which was one of the goals of the event, Rosen said. Students had the opportunity to develop leadership skills, she said. There were about 70 volunteers including deaf students and students in deaf education.

Rosen said it will take a few days to get a final count of how much money was raised.

There are around 1,000 sign language users on campus. It is not just deaf students but also deaf education students and the whole ASL community that was welcome to participate and celebrate and bring along their friends and family, Rosen said.