A YOUNG Southside boy who is teaching children, including special needs kids, sign language has been chosen as a child ambassador.
Six-year-old Quaid Cleland from Rathfarnham joined child ambassadors from each county who took part in the Toy Show Experience at the Convention Centre on Friday, November 4.
He helped announce that one of the many companies involved in the event, Thinking Toys, was demonstrating their extensive range of amazing treats for special needs kids.
They hosted a ‘Sensory Room’ that was dedicated to toys, games and equipment suitable for children with special needs or learning difficulties.
Quaid was joined by a special companion, a puppet called Simply Signing Billy, with whom he has been learning sign language and teaching other children how to sign.
Quaid and the other ambassadors were selected from hundreds of nominations received in just four days on the Toy Show Experience Facebook page.
His mother, Derval, is a sign language teacher with SimplySigning.ie, which teaches young children and babies how to use Irish sign language.
Derval said that she fell in love with the language and due to its practical advantages, decided to teach her young son how use it.
“The particular sign language that I teach is simplified for children,” she explained. “I fell in love with the language and could see the benefits of it. It is a fantastic language. When Quaid is doing Irish dancing for example we can have a conversation through sign language without anyone even knowing.
“If he is reading and he doesn't understand what a word means I will get him to finger spell it out to me and then I show him what the word is by doing the action. Once children have an action or a visual in their head they can remember the word much quicker.”
In turn Derval decided that Quaid, who quickly learned the language and enjoyed using it, could encourage other young children to learn it with a little help from a friendly puppet.
“Simply Signing Billy is a puppet we use to teach the children how to sign,” she added. “We tell the children that he is deaf, so for them to converse with the puppet they have to use the sign language that Billy is using. Quaid can put his hands into the hands of the puppet and then the puppet can sign.
“When I am running classes Quaid will come with me and sign. The younger kids see him doing it and it gets their attention.
“Quaid took to the sign language like a duck to water,” she revealed. “Children are sponges at this age. They are still trying to learn the alphabet and he learned to sign the first time he looked at it.”
She said Quaid was very excited about being an ambassador at the Toy Convention as he was due to meet Jedward and get his picture taken with the twins.More Information - http://www.simplysigning.ie