An unusual activity has become a much loved, twice a week educational class at GemLife Maroochy Quays thanks to the ingenuity of deaf residents Colin and Elizabeth Grieve and interpreter Gail Smith.
The innovative trio, whose friendship extends many years, has introduced free sign language classes every Wednesday and Friday to which all residents are welcome.
The idea first arose when Colin and Elizabeth sold their home of 27 years and purchased one of the resort’s villas.
Keen to get to know their new neighbours, they were quick to take up invitations to attend free cooking and water aerobics classes but were immediately faced with the dilemma of not being able to hear the instructor, so they called longtime friend Gail to join them and interpret.
Gail’s use of sign language captured the imagination and attention of their classmates and she was soon bombarded with questions and interest from the spellbound onlookers, many of whom wanted to interact with Colin and Elizabeth more regularly.
“It was amazing, and I became a bit of an interpreter for them all. Everyone wanted to know how to do it,” said Gail.
The interest was met with great excitement by Colin and Elizabeth who, along with Gail, volunteered to teach the skill at specially organised sign language classes held in the poolside summer house.
Lessons are also posted on Facebook to give participants an opportunity to practice.
Extremely well attended and now attracting widespread interest from outside the resort, the classes have brought joy to everyone, especially Colin and Elizabeth. They are now able to communicate and interact with all their new friends and neighbours and take part in activities and celebrations much more frequently.
The couple say that the experience of teaching a new language to enthusiastic students has created an exciting, new lifestyle in a beautiful resort-style environment and has also successfully bridged the communication gap for good.