Sign Design Theatre celebrates 25 years of teaching sign language and theater arts in Las Vegas Valley

It’s a sign of the times.

At least that’s what Dawn Carroll, director of the Sign Design Theatre Company, 4010 Schiff Drive, believes the uptick of involvement in the nonprofit group indicates.

"We have over 150 kids participating," she said, "m aybe even more than that at times."

The company, which is celebrating it s 25th anniversary this year, teaches dance, theater and American Sign Language to both hearing and deaf children between ages 5 to 18.

Carroll started as a member of the group and went on to become director because she said she wanted to make a difference in the lives of children.

"This is the best way that I know of to do that," she said. "This group is really one of a kind, and it offers a kind of unity you may not find anywhere else."

Of the 150 kids who are currently participating in the group, only four or five are hearing-impaired, Carroll said.

Rachel Tozzi, 14, is deaf and has been a part of the company for nearly three years.

"I love the drama and acting part," she said through an interpreter. "Practicing with other kids and seeing them learn sign language makes me feel great. I would definitely recommend it to other kids."

Rachel said she plans to stay involved with the group for many years to come.

"It changed my life," she said. "I started out very shy, but it has changed me. I’m more confident."

Mikayla Jones, 16, has been participating in the company for more than seven years and is now fluent in ASL.

Jones said she became interested in joining the group after the company formed a partnership with her elementary school.

Jones can hear but said she always found the idea of learning another language appealing.

"It’s been a wonderful learning experience," she said.

Carroll said the group, which meets twice weekly for a few hours per meeting, is always looking for new members.

People who are interested in attending the first meeting need not do anything but show up.

Participation costs $45 per month, but because the group is a nonprofit, no child is ever turned away, Carroll said.

"We are always looking for more kids to get involved," Carroll said. "We are inclusive. We are a safe place for kids to come and be themselves and learn something new. I’d love to be able to give that to every kid in the valley."

For more information, visit sign designtheatre.org.

Contact Southwest and Spring Valley View reporter Amanda Llewellyn at allewellyn@viewnews.com or 380-4535.

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