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Dec 3, 2015

Cayo Deaf Institute Excels in Finger Spelling Bee

This week is being dedicated to persons with disabilities to build awareness as well as to highlight that they too have abilities.  One of the activities was held today at the Belize Elementary School where eleven children participated in what is called A Finger Bee.  The participants were drawn from inclusive classroom settings and prepared for weeks to compete.  In the end, a school from the west is best. Duane Moody reports.


Laura Assi, Winner, Senior Division,

Laura Assi

 “I am happy that I won the trophy and the first prize.”


Duane Moody, Reporting

Cayo Deaf Institute sweeps the 2015 Finger Spelling Bee. Today, the twentieth annual Spelling Bee for the Hearing Impaired students from across the country was held at the Belize Elementary School Gymnasium in Belize City. A total of eleven students competed both in the junior and senior divisions. But in the end, Myline Shish, Daniel Chun and Julian Assi of Cayo Deaf Institute won first, second and third respectively in the Junior category; while Laura Assi returned this year to take first place in the senior category.


Carolyn Reimer

Carolyn Reimer, Teacher, Cayo Deaf Institute

“It was lots of work; it was really challenging, but they themselves decided that they were going to do and they did it. We studied hard, from in the morning to the evening.”


Duane Moody

“What would you say is the most difficult thing for them when it comes to participating in something like this?”


Carolyn Reimer

“What’s most difficult, I’d say was knowing which sign goes for which word. If they can see the sign, they can spell the word, but they don’t know which word goes for which sign. And trying to organize that all and drawing pictures and everything.”


Phillip Penner, Teacher, Cayo Deaf Institute

Phillip Penner

“It was several weeks of hard work. Laura has done a good job in preparation. It was busy, but we made it.”


Carolyn Reimer

“Words we had trouble with, I guess were probably the longer words that they don’t use in their vocabulary. The words like for the colors, they use them every time so for them those words are simpler than the ones they never use in their vocabulary.”


The Finger Bee, as it is colloquially known, is organized by the National Resource Center for Inclusive Education. The national event is being held during Disability Awareness Week under the theme, “Inclusion Matters—Access and Empowerment of Persons of All Abilities.” The idea says Special Education Officer Juanita Cadle is to have students from inclusive classroom settings participate in the competition to develop their vocabulary and communication skills.


Juanita Cadle

Juanita Cadle, Special Education Officer, NaRCIE

“We have five participants in the junior category and six participants in the senior category. All of these participants represent different districts because we have representation from Corozal, Orange Walk, Belize and Cayo. We had one for Stann Creek, but last minute something beyond us happened and he dropped out. Most of these students are inclusive settings where they are enrolled in regular classrooms or regular schools, but because they are deaf, we have interpreters working with them within the regular classroom settings. So that interpreter can interpret what the teacher is teaching to the deaf child. So we believe in inclusive because then our children with disabilities learn from their disabled peers. But again, for this competition, it is very beneficial to both our community and our students, who are deaf because the students who are deaf learn new words, learn new signs and they learn to spell the words.”


There were consolidation prizes for all participants and the winners won bicycles, kindles and dictionaries courtesy of Bowen and Bowen.


Jason Badillo, Crystal Brand Coordinator, Bowen & Bowen

Jason Badillo

“Crystal has been involved for the entire twenty years that the Finger Spelling Bee has been taking place. As a company, Bowen and Bowen has always been a part of community activities and giving back. First this is essential; I mean we are all human beings; some of us are just a bit different. And these kids, I have seen the work that they put in and they put a lot of effort studying for this event. So we just want to give back and let them enjoy the whole experience as well. So we come out and make the place look nice and provide a lot of cool gifts for the kids. Even like the prizes that we give them, it is tailored for them. We have sign language dictionaries, we have the kindle, we have a lot of cool coloring books and magic rocks. One thing I found cool was the shake wake alarm clock. They can’t hear a regular alarm clock so this vibrates to wake them up. So we really try to cater to them so they can feel special as well.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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