[soundslides width=”620″ height =”503″ id=”187497″]Chloe Palethorpe makes a difference in the community without saying a single word – not a spoken word, at least.
Palethorpe, a senior majoring in special education, is president of the American Sign Language Club on campus and volunteers at the Sego Lily Center for the Abused Deaf and the Deaf Community Center in Taylorsville.
Palethorpe has been “speaking” American Sign Language for three years now but said she has always loved it.
“My mom taught me a few signs growing up, so I’ve always been interested,” Palethorpe said. “I just started taking the classes we have here because I wanted to learn more and then I fell in love with it, and I fell in love with deaf culture. I just really immersed myself in it.”
Palethrope said ASL is useful because you never know when you will come across a deaf person. For instance, she saw shoppers signing at Winco. Wanting to join, she went over to get some cheese. When they apologized for being in the way, she signed, “It’s fine, you’re good,” and that started a conversation.
ASL will be helpful to Palethorpe in her career as a special education teacher because many special education students are nonverbal and use signing to communicate. She also plans to get her master’s degree in deaf education.
Palethorpe’s duties as president of the ASL Club allow her to see students progress in ASL at the weekly meetings where there is a “no voice” policy.
“It’s really cool to see at the beginning of the semester; all the timid 101 students show up looking so lost,” Palethorpe said. “As the weeks go along, they start to talk more or they understand more. It’s really cool to see their progression.”
At the club meetings, students play ASL games and communicate with one another through signing.
“The club is a way to relax and see how super fun ASL can be,” Palethorpe said. “I love seeing people come every week. I’ve improved so much through having to put myself out there.”
Elizabeth Young, the club treasurer, said Palethorpe is organized and involved in everything.
“She keeps us all on task, and since she has been president we have had really good club attendance,” Young said. “She makes sure that club time is used effectively. I enjoy coming to club because I feel like she needs me and enjoys my presence.”
Seth Spencer, who does advertising and public relations for the club, said Palethorpe creates an environment where people feel welcome and needed.
“Chloe is expert at reaching out to new or shy members of the club and helping all to be included in the activities,” Spencer said.
Palethorpe also reaches out in her responsibilities at the Sego Lily Center for the Abused Deaf. She helps out with different events, answers crisis hotline calls, runs the Facebook page and helps with advertising.
Stephanie Mathis, the executive director for the center, said that though Palethorpe has only been volunteering there for a year, it seems like longer because she fits right in.
“She’s very committed and very easy to work with,” Mathis said in an email. “It’s hard to find committed volunteers with the undying devotion and energy like Chloe’s. Many volunteers come and go, but Chloe is the one that stays through.”
Mathis said she sees Palethorpe at several deaf community events and can tell she enjoys being around deaf people and is interested in being involved in the deaf community.
“One major thing about the deaf culture is that community feeling,” Palethorpe said. “It instantly creates a connection. One of my favorite things that sometimes can be annoying is that when you are saying good bye, deaf people always have one more thing to say and the conversation lasts 20 more minutes. I love it because there’s so much to say and so much friendship. You know everyone there can sign, so it’s really comfortable and usually you meet someone once and they remember you forever.”