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Port Adelaide Football Club adds an AUSLAN interpreter to its school education program

Several Port Adelaide Football Club players will use sign language to celebrate a goal during their inaugural AFLW clash to inspire deaf students they’ve met through the club’s healthy lifestyle education program.

The club has been running the program in South Australian schools since 1999, but for the first time an AUSLAN interpreter has been added to the classroom to accommodate deaf and hard of hearing students.

All 17 Brighton Primary School pupils suffered hearing impairment in class last Wednesday, and AFLW players Liz McGrath, Gemma Houghton and Tess Doumanis have inspired them to be active and eat well.

Houghton said programs like this made everyone feel “like they belonged to this club”.

“This is the first AUSLAN session we’ve done and to be a part of that makes me feel very honored and proud. We like to think of ourselves as an inclusive club,” she said.

“There was a lot of laughter and of course they understood my jokes about walking your cat or dog.

“They are great, bright students and connecting with them makes this all special.

Deaf Connect interpreter Maddison Inglis and AFLW players Liz McGrath, Gemma Houghton and Tess Doumanis at Brighton Primary School.(Delivered: Port Adelaide Football Club)

“They taught us some sign language – Port Power – that a few of us said in the first round, if we score a goal it will be our party.

“We hope they get that back and that they see that and realize that they are very important to us.”

Brighton Primary School Center for Deaf Education Assistant Director Catharine Carlin said the program was great.

“They see these players doing something amazing and it really gives them inspiration and it changes a lot of their thinking and also gives them that little bit of awe,” she said.

“It’s important that they run programs with the AUSLAN interpretations so that they have that opportunity and everyone gets involved and they don’t miss any information that is given.”

She said the information from football stars meant the students would “go home with very fond memories”.

A group photo of all students with three AFLW Port Adelaide players
AFLW players Liz McGrath, Gemma Houghton and Tess Doumanis with some students.(Delivered: Port Adelaide Football Club)

Ms Carlin said she hoped there would be more classes with an AUSLAN interpreter in the future.

All 660 pupils at Brighton Primary School learn AUSLAN, whether they are deaf, hard of hearing or have no hearing impairment, so that everyone can communicate.

Ms. Carlin said that inclusiveness was important at the school and that AUSLAN was a “wonderful language to learn”.

She said she would like to see AUSLAN added to the curriculum in more schools in the state.

Will Northeast leads the Youth Community Program at the football club, the brainchild of Port legend Russell Ebert.

Black and white photo of an Aussie Rules player triumphantly holding a flag
Port legend Russell Ebert holds a premiership flag.(Delivered: Port Adelaide Football Club)

He said it was a proud moment to lead the class for deaf and hard of hearing students with the help of an AUSLAN interpreter.

“I know Russ would have been proud too. Every student now has access to our program and can learn and hear from our AFL men and women,” he said.

He said he hoped the AUSLAN program would be rolled out to other schools in South Australia.

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