Over the next few months, we’ll be telling you some of the amazing stories from our hubs up and down the UK and Ireland. We’re really proud of what we’ve achieved and of all the hard work done by our hub workers and awesome champions. Here’s Daryl’s story…
I am a Big Music Champion and both of my parents are deaf, so I grew up with sign language as my primary form of communication. When I was younger, I had to attend quite intensive speech therapy to improve my English. People obviously found out about my parents when I was at school so I had to deal with the mocking and the jokes, and got bullied quite badly. I felt like being close to the deaf community meant that I was worth less as a person. It felt awful and I also felt even worse for my parents.
Daryl’s Big Music Project
Through the Big Music Project, we decided to integrate sign language into some of our performances. The first time we did this was the Summer musical, Calamity Jane, in 2015. I taught my peers who were performing the song ‘Higher than a hawk’ how to sign the words to the song and we signed along while we were singing. The reaction from audiences was amazing – they were so touched and lots of people cried. The other cast members loved learning and performing it too. We decided to put it into another performance of a devised piece called Caritas that was highlighting issues for marginalised groups of people – this meant a lot to me because I felt like I was empowering people in the deaf community and also educating other people about the challenges that members of the deaf community face.
I now feel so proud about my background and the fact that I have been able to highlight issues for the deaf community to audiences across Northern Ireland. I feel like these are really important issues and that they don’t always get the amount of attention that they need. The fact that I have been able to teach sign language to my peers and that audiences were so moved by our performances that used sign language means so much to me.
I have felt so inspired by the journey that I have been on through the Big Music Project and I want to continue to highlight issues for the deaf community and continue to teach sign language to people who may never have considered that it’s something that it might be useful for them to learn. I recently facilitated a sign language workshop to over 50 people in total at our Big Music Showcase day – I am so grateful for the opportunity and would love to do it again.
The support that I have received from Big Music staff and also the other Champions in the group has been amazing and has been the main reason why I have been so inspired to spread this message. Without their encouragement and support, this would not be something that I am so proud of now.
The Big Music Project has helped me grow my confidence and pride in who I am and my family and also helped me spread education and to highlight issues for marginalised groups of people.