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Raising their voices

By Cheng Yuezhu | China Daily | Updated: 2021-12-29 08:44
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A group photo of the participants in the Snail Post Office, a series of writing and performing workshops for children and teenagers with hearing difficulties. CHINA DAILY

When Peng Linqian was 7 years old, she had a fever that caused her to lose her hearing. She recalls that after waking up that day, she realized that her world had gone completely quiet.

The hearing impairment impeded her ability to express herself, which, for a long period during her childhood, led her to fall into depression and self-isolation.

Learning from personal experience the importance of self-expression, she has been working to give a voice to the hearing-impaired via artistic means, hosting picture book courses and an art festival for children with hearing difficulties.

Earlier this year, when Chen Luhang, often known as Dodo, contacted her about launching a series of writing and performing workshops for children and teenagers with hearing difficulties, she gladly joined the project as a co-organizer.

The first installment of the workshop, named Snail Post Office, was hosted in Chongqing from Aug 21 to 28, and was joined by five participants aged between 8 and 16 years old, accompanied by eight tutors and assistants.

"The workshop aims to empower them to write their own stories. They are constantly encouraged to express how they feel," Peng says.

A theatrical producer working mostly on children's productions, Dodo had been involved in a variety of inclusive arts projects, including the 2018 Unlimited Festival in London and the Second Luminous Festival in East China's Xiamen city, Fujian province, in 2020.

"By working on the Luminous Festival, I got to know a lot of people with hearing difficulties, as well as those who are contributing to serve the group, such as sign-language interpreters," she says.

"I thought about what I could do, and thought that the first step is for the general public to get to know their lives and to hear their stories. What seemed to me as an immediately effective way to do this was writing, so I initiated the Snail Post Office project, to help the children write down their stories."

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