CSUN’s DEAF Project Joins Deaf Community, Bloomingdale’s in Honoring Male Role Models on Father’s Day Weekend

The Father's Day celebration is inspired by Bloomingdale's General Manager Alon Schmilovich, seen here with his daughter, Ellie, who is Deaf. Photo courtesy of Alon Schmilovich.

The Father’s Day celebration is inspired by Bloomingdale’s General Manager Alon Schmilovich, seen here with his daughter, Ellie, who is Deaf. Photo courtesy of Alon Schmilovich.

Any man can father a child, but it takes a real man to be a father — or father figure — a child can look up to. California State University, Northridge’s Deaf Education and Families (DEAF) Project is teaming up with members of the Deaf community and the department store Bloomingdale’s on Saturday, June 17, to honor dads, stepdads, uncles and all men whose active involvement enhances the lives of children who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The Father’s Day weekend celebration will take place from 1 to 5 p.m. the Bloomingdale’s Santa Monica location, Bloomingdale’s on 2, at 315 Colorado Ave.

“Most of the time, when parents realize that their baby is deaf, that baby is the first deaf person they’ve ever met,” said DEAF Project Director Rachel Friedman Narr, a professor of special education and Deaf education at CSUN. “It can be especially challenging for fathers to accept that their child is ‘different,’ and to embrace those differences. We really want to acknowledge and extend our gratitude to those men who are finding ways to be there for their children.”

The honored men and their guests will be treated to an afternoon of refreshments and entertainment as they explore the Santa Monica Bloomindale’s, which features a variety of trendsetting designers.

The men also will get a change to meet actor Ryan Lane, star of the poplar Freeform (formerly ABC Family) show, “Switched at Birth,” who will greet fans and take pictures beginning at 2:30 p.m.

The men, and the public, can enjoy a demonstration by SUBPAC, a pioneer of physical sound technology, which will showcase its wearable products that pulse sound through the body, creating a deeper, more intense connection to music. Clean Aesthetic, a Los Angeles-based producer of sustainable fashion, will offer custom screen-printing of three unique American Sign Language-based designs created especially for the day.

Bloomingdale’s will donate 10 percent of tracked, storewide sales during the event to CSUN’s DEAF Project, which offers support to families with deaf or hard-of-hearing children.

“This partnership is the perfect opportunity to acknowledge the dads and other men whose support makes a difference in the lives of children,” Friedman Narr said. “It’s also a wonderful opportunity for some last-minute Father’s Day shopping, while knowing that your purchase helps support a worthy cause.”

All but a small percentage of deaf and hard-of-hearing babies are born to hearing parents. This makes it challenging for parents to decide what’s best for their children, Friedman Narr said.

“Despite research showing the benefits of early acquisition of American Sign Language — even if, and especially when, the goal is to maximize a child’s listening and speaking potential — parents are often pressured by the medical profession to choose between spoken or signed language,” she said. “This often creates a devastating language delay that has a significant impact on a child’s future emotional, social and educational development.”

DEAF Project strives to help families understand that “more is better” when it comes to early language development. The organization offers free, family-focused American Sign Language classes, in-person and online; provides parent-to-parent support via parent mentors who are also raising deaf or hard-of-hearing children; and coordinates opportunities for families to meet and interact with others like them.

“As DEAF Project celebrates 10 years of supporting families who find themselves on this unique journey, we are proud to know our efforts have made things easier for parents, even if that means just knowing they are not alone — that there are others out there who understand what they are going through,” Friedman Narr said. “At the same time, there’s still work to be done. There’s a lot of misinformation out there, and our goal is to make sure all parents raising deaf and hard-of-hearing children can easily access the knowledge needed to make truly informed decisions in the best interested of their children.”

Those interested in attending the Father’s Day celebration can reserve a spot at  http://evite.me/GpETJM5ucV. To learn more about CSUN’s DEAF Project, visit the website http://www.csun.edu/deafproject/.

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