Breaking through barriers with arts and craft

7 May 2019 | Articles

Breaking through barriers with arts and craft

When Sharon Robertson retired from work just over a year ago she was looking for something new and interesting to do. She had always been interested in craft and when she saw a Volunteering Auckland position as a craft teacher for the deaf, the decision was made.

Now every two weeks she brings a big box of materials to the Society’s drop in craft day in Epsom, and for the next 4 hours she’s in charge of some 20 to 30 deaf students who will finish the day with one or two art or craft items to take home.

Making crafts can be relaxing, rewarding and fun, and when set in a deaf friendly environment it’s a great opportunity to catch up with others. Sharon says. “Deaf can live isolated lives so organising social occasions which gets them out of the house is very important.

Some who come here have additional disabilities, so for them, learning how to use a sewing machine and making a useful or arty object, is a useful way to gain new life skills.”

Sharon now finds her commitment pretty much takes all her spare time. She has to find craft designs and source materials, and that also means helping organise the funds to make it possible. And she has to actually make the projects first so that she knows it is reasonably simple and can be achieved in a 4 hour session. And on top of that she’s learning sign language too.

Sharon’s not sure whether it’s her or her students who benefit the most. “My students are a warm and loving group of people so working with them brings a very nice feeling, -I get a lot out of it. It’s put a new perspective on my life and I’ve learnt compassion and empathy too.”

Creating craft is an ideal way to break through the language barrier that can isolate the deaf, and empowering the deaf is what it’s all about. That’s something Sharon’s come to know very well.

Photo: Sharon Robertson, Craft Teacher for the Deaf Wellbeing Society.

Volunteer Stories

Neil at Selwyn Village

Neil at Selwyn Village

I volunteered here to make a contribution towards helping senior residents with limited mobility.