If you have ever considered learning a second language, American Sign Language (ASL) is a great one to learn with the family. Classes will be held weekly by Bridges of Hope Language Ministries at the Jackson Seventh-day Adventist Church starting on Monday, January 11.
“It is good for families to take this class together, as it gives everyone a way to practice at home and outside of class. That can be a great advantage to the students,” said Jake Mabile, who will be teaching the class. “Learning ASL is beneficial for everyone, as it provides a valuable method of communication. It also helps to break the communication gap, and invite them into a community of people who share a common language. Furthermore, it provides tons of opportunities in the future like interpreting, teaching and performing.”
Jake, who wanted to reach his community, first offered ASL classes in his home. He eventually moved them to That Church Medina, which was a larger location, to accommodate student interest. The move to Jackson is in response to the number of students he has coming from that area to attend the classes.
“I felt a calling to share my knowledge of ASL with others,” said Jake. “I currently serve as a volunteer interpreter for Therapy & Learning Center’s Rein-Bow Riding Academy, and interpret for That Church Medina and the Jackson Seventh-day Adventist Church. I also teach private “Total Communication” sessions for families with autistic/non-verbal children helping them to develop communication by using sign and speech simultaneously.”
The purpose of the Bridges of Hope ASL class is to teach families how to sign in order to bridge the communication gap between the hearing and deaf worlds, which explains the name of the ministry. Although the class is not a certified ASL program, it is comprehensive in instruction and students may join at any time, because each class begins with review. There is also no fee to attend, but donations/free will offerings are accepted.
Jake began learning ASL at a young age from a neighbor, who was an interpreter. He later learned more from a family he met at his brother’s special needs martial arts class.
“It really interested me, so I picked up some books, found some websites, attended meetings at our local National Association for the Deaf and gained experience by spending time with people in our local Deaf community” said Jake. “Jackson (West Tennessee) is a great Deaf cultural center, as we are home to the West Tennessee School for the Deaf (WTSD) and the Jackson Chapter Tennessee Association of the Deaf.”
Students will have many opportunities to apply what they learn in the class. They may participate in various performances presented by Bridges of Hope, and attend events and conferences where there are opportunities to use their ASL skills in a practical sense.
“I have made many friends who are Deaf. Knowing the language is your key into the Deaf community and it has strengthened those friendships,” said Jake. “It provides a way to independently communicate with them and it means a lot to them for you to be able to speak in their language. Basically, learning sign says ‘I care’ to them, as it means you took time to learn how to communicate effectively.”
Jake noted the ASL class is not religious, but educational.
“You do not have to be Adventists to join the class! We welcome people from all different faiths and all of our events are open to the public, so we encourage students to invite friends and family,” said Jake.
The Bridges of Hope Language Ministries Community Sign Language class: Mondays at 7 p.m. in the Hines Memorial School on the campus of the Jackson Seventh-day Adventist Church, 1902 Campbell Street, Jackson 38305. Call Jake Mabile at (731) 616-4168 or e-mail him for more information.
All pictures courtesy of Bridges of Hope Language Ministries.
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