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City of Calgary Community Social Worker Megan Solamillo aims to help residents connect in their neighbourhoods to create social inclusion and economic participation.

Through the community development process, Megan recently met a resident who wanted  to teach her neighbours to talk with her using American Sign Language (ASL). This was a great opportunity to help create vital community connections for the deaf and hard of hearing community.

“I met Eileen last year who was teaching her neighbours how to sign and communicate with her. She was passionate about teaching and I asked would you like to teach others in the community.”

With the support of Deaf and Hear Alberta, Megan supported Eileen to lead weekly workshops at Village Square Leisure Centre teaching the fundamentals of ASL to others.

Now, a group of a dozen community participants made up of newcomers to Canada hailing from Afghanistan and Ukraine are learning both English and ASL at the same time. The weekly gathering is helping to support a sense of belonging and increase connectivity in the community.

Teaching comes naturally to Eileen, who knows the drawbacks of isolation for people in the deaf community.

“When I moved to my neighbourhood in 2022, I met lots of new neighbours and started teaching them ASL. I love teaching ASL to the community. It has helped me feel more connected and has helped me make new friends. It has been fun to teach new words to people and have them get to know me more both to the deaf and hearing community.”

The City of Calgary has CSWs in more than 20 neighbourhoods across Calgary, aiming to create positive social change. Community social workers work with residents and other partners to promote leadership and volunteer opportunities, build individual skills, confidence and experience, and connect community members.

Learn more about the continuous improvements we’re making to City services:

Sean Chu

Sean Chu arrived in Calgary from Taiwan in 1985 speaking not a word of English, and within 7 years he was a sworn officer with the Calgary Police Service. From that point on Sean worked with the Calgary Police Service as on Officer for 21 years in a number of roles until 2013.

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