DEAFestival 2015 Comes to Grand Park

By Elena Epstein

special needs DEAFestival 2015

DEAFestival’s mission is to raise awareness and build connections with in the deaf community in Los Angeles. PHOTO BY MADALYN D PHOTOGRAPHY

The 17th annual DEAFestival, a free daylong family event offering resources, entertainment and community building, will take place at Los Angeles City Hall and Grand Park (200 N. Spring St., L.A.) from noon-4 p.m. Oct. 3.

The event will feature a deaf talent show, a T-shirt design contest, a fashion show, information booths, art workshops, child safety seat classes and free car seat giveaways. At the “Once Upon a Sign” video booth, classic children’s stories will be performed in ASL. There will also be face painting, an auto show featuring motorcycles and cars owned by those in the deaf community and food trucks offering up their specialties.

Actor and model Dickie Hearts, who is part of the deaf community, will host the festival. Actor and model Nyle DiMarco, the first deaf contestant on “America’s Next Top Model,” will host the festival’s popular fashion show, scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

The mission of the DEAFestival is to raise awareness, to unite the deaf community and to bring families together to network and gain a greater understanding of resources available to meet the community’s special needs, says Bertha Velázquez, who has been a lead organizer of the event since its inception.

“Not only do we want to educate the community, but also be a resource for hearing parents who have deaf children on how to bridge the two worlds together for their family,” says Velázquez, whose 26-year-old daughter is deaf.

The first DEAFestival brought almost 200 people together. Last year, about 7,000 people attended the event. “It’s amazing to see the festival grow so much and bring so many people together,” says Velázquez, who works for Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis.

By showcasing successful professionals and the creative contributions of varied artists, the festival celebrates the achievements of the deaf community and aims to build “a sense of place, community, identity and value” among deaf children and families, says Velázquez. “To see the smiles on the kids’ faces is the best feeling,” she says. “It’s really their day.”

Free parking will be available at 201 Los Angeles St. between First and Temple streets. For more information, visit: www.deafestivalla.org or the event’s Facebook page.

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