Signing Santa: Deaf Kids Tell Jolly Old Elf Their Christmas Wish Lists

By Edward B. Colby
|  Tuesday, Dec 17, 2013  |  Updated 5:23 PM EDT
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A total of 125 deaf or partially deaf kids from the Miami-Dade County Public Schools visited with Signing Santa at the Dolphin Mall Tuesday. Organizer Cheryl Mullininx talked and signed about the event.

A total of 125 deaf or partially deaf kids from the Miami-Dade County Public Schools visited with Signing Santa at the Dolphin Mall Tuesday. Organizer Cheryl Mullininx talked and signed about the event.

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One by one, eager kids approached Santa Claus at the Dolphin Mall on Tuesday and told him what they want for Christmas – in sign language.

For 125 deaf or partially deaf youngsters from the Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the visit with Signing Santa was an unusual opportunity, said Cheryl Mullininx, who organized the event.

“They’re able to speak with Santa, tell him what they want for Christmas in their native language, which doesn’t happen very often,” she said. “And they also get to socialize with all of their peers and be able to watch performances in sign language and see some positive role models in deaf adults.”

Mullininx said she has been organizing the Signing Santa event for 14 years. This is the second year that the Dolphin Mall has hosted it.

Students from G. Holmes Braddock Senior High School, North Miami Senior High School and Miami Palmetto Senior High School performed in sign language for the elementary school kids.

“This is an amazing opportunity and an amazing event for the kids – just to watch their face light up. A lot of them do not get this opportunity,” Mullininx said of the performers. “They have limited exposure to sign language, so this is really a great experience for them.”

The children also were able to play in the snow of the “Ice Palace,” or try out a snow cone machine.

"This is such an extremely important event for our deaf students,” said Michael Rodriguez of Auburndale Elementary School. “It’s their only time that they can communicate with Santa Claus, and tell Santa Claus what they want, and tell him what they wish for, and they don’t have that opportunity if their parents bring them to a regular Santa Claus that can’t sign, and this is a Santa Claus just like them, so this is very special to them.”

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