Youngsters living with deafness are inspired in sport by a Henfield teacher who has won a national award for her work.
Wendy Russell ensured special sign language was created for deaf hockey players and her system is being introduced nationally.
Because of her outstanding work Wendy, Steyning Grammar School PE Teacher and Hockey Coach, is now the holder of the ‘Disability Coach of the Year’ title from Sports Coach UK Awards in Manchester.
The awards honour sports coaches and organisations demonstrating outstanding success over the last 12 months, and are seen as one of the most prestigious within the coaching community.
This award has been won for revolutionising the way deaf or hard of hearing young people take part in hockey by creating a hockey-specific sign language.
This came after discovering that only 11.5% of deaf young people do sport outside of Physical Education. The reason many gave for this was because they had to go to hearing clubs, and a lot of them felt isolated because they needed extra support; and also that people didn’t know how to interact with them.
Wendy wanted to set up a hockey club that was for deaf people only so that they could feel included and safe within that environment, so applied for and gained funding to run a Deaf Hockey
Sportivate project in Brighton. This is the first deaf hockey club in Great Britain.
In order to communicate with the youngsters a new hockey-specific sign language was developed.
Wendy explained: “The only sign I could find was for naming the actual sport hockey, so I needed to create 30 others that would allow me quickly to not only explain what we were doing and working on, but also how to give feedback to the players.”
The new sign language has now been ratified by “Remark” and endorsed by the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS). It is now being introduced by UK Deaf Sport, NDCS and England Hockey, and will be used across the country by teachers and participants.
Wendy has also won the Sussex Sports Award Sportivate Project of the Year and was shortlisted in the top five for the ‘Community Award’ in The Sunday Times and Sky Sports News Sportswoman of the Year Awards.
Wendy is an England Hockey Level 2 coach and also a regional hockey coach as well as an Active Sussex coach mentor and a Project 500 ambassador for Sussex.
Wendy is pictured.