Alison’s Story: Summer Camp

Mar 18, 2019

Video description link:

As a child, Alison attended a mainstream school during the school year and participated in deaf camp each summer as a balance. She describes how her experiences at Aspen Camp taught her about herself and built her self-confidence.

Video Description:
The NDC logo appears in the bottom right corner and the screen is framed with a thick teal line. White text reads “Alsion’s Story Summer Camp.”
A woman with light skin and long, dark, curly hair and colorful dangle earrings smiles at the camera. The camera shot widens and we see Alison is wearing a white shirt and green cardigan. She’s sitting in an open lobby area on a grey couch with white geometric patterns.
My name is Alison Kittenplan; I’m known as Kat.  I identify as deaf.  I was born in New Rochelle, specifically and grew up on Long Island.
Every single summer, I went to deaf camp to balance it out, so I was very fortunate for that type of option that my parents provided. Well, thinking back, that experience was really… It taught me a lot about who I am. I remember growing up, wearing hearing aids before I got the cochlear implant at age 10. Because I realized the hearing aids were not working for me.  I had tried different things, many different hearing aids and was frustrated. So my identity was limited to that.  I couldn’t hear, I couldn’t speak around my hearing friends without being misunderstood or feeling stupid for admitting I didn’t understand. So that was always a struggle. But then I went to a deaf camp and I started seeing other people like me who shared the same experiences as me, regardless of if they were mainstreamed or went to the school for the deaf. They understood. So camp is where I realized I had the option to be around people like me while I could still get a good education, which was important. Camp gave me the determination to maintain confidence in a mainstream school. It gave me the confidence to remind my peers that I was just like them. I had been very passive until around age 10 where I started to break out of that passivity.
Then I went to Aspen Camp and… I want to say I was 13…yeah I think 13 years old. That was a breakthrough experience for me. My confidence went through the roof .I had a 2-week backpacking trip at camp. I was among a diverse group of campers, from those who used ASL, to Signing Exact English.  Campers from different academic experiences and environments all in one place, working together. Spending time with my peers with nothing but the outdoors. Talking with them, hiking, working together. They relied on me for my leadership, they relied on me for my ideas. That brought me to realize…what’s not to be proud of my deaf identity? Who I am has nothing to do with the fact that I’m deaf really.Everyone is who they are whether they are deaf or not, so that built my confidence from there and even to this day. If it wasn’t for those summer camps and having that mainstream experience, those things really made me who I am. I’m very proud and I want to recognize and credit my parents because they gave me the options. I know not everyone is fortunate enough to have the type of options I was provided. So I was able to find myself and create friend groups. My parents searched…I think they knew I was frustrated and they wanted to make sure they filled the gaps. I was struggling with a lot of self doubt and insecurity. So they filled those gaps in the right way and it’s benefitted me ever since.
Video Description:
NDC Logo appears above text, black lettering on a white background:
“This video was developed under a jointly-funded grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) and the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) #HD326D160001. However, the contents do not necessarily represent the positions or policies of the federal government.”
Next to it, three logos appear. The first reads “IDEAs that Work” with an arrow drawing a circle from “IDEAs” to “Work” and the words “U.S. Office of Special Education Programs”. The second logo shows a red-and-blue star with text next to it that reads “TA&D”. The third logo shows a blue circle around a tree. In the blue circle are the words “U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION.”

© National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes
Video licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International

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