Rachel performing in Salem, Oregon

Just wanted to let all of you know that Rachel will be performing during the Willamette Valley Down Syndrome Association (WVDSA) Buddy Walk from 10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 27th at the amphitheater located in Riverfront Park in Salem. Rachel will also be performing during a fund-raising concert to benefit the WVDSA. The concert will be held on Friday, September 26th at 6:30 p.m. at the Morningstar Community Church located at 4775 27th Ave SE.

Rachel and I will be there to meet you following each event. I also wanted to share a story of one little girl who learned sign language as a means to communicate, and is very excited to show off her signs for Rachel at the event.

Keep reading for more….

Madeline Thiel, also known as Maddie, was born on Saturday, February 23, 2002.  While she was not a surprise baby, it was a surprise that she had Down syndrome. About the age of three, her receptive communication was going well, but her verbal communication was not picking up.  Heidi Thiel, Maddie’s mother, felt like Maddie definitely wanted to tell her family what was on her mind, but she would be terribly shy around others.

The Thiels decided to take up sign language that would provide an outlet for Maddie to begin communicating, even though she was shy. That is when the family was introduced to Signing Time, a DVD series that encourages communication for children of all abilities through American Sign Language (ASL).

Heidi recalls the first time they watched the DVDs, Maddie picked up signing 8-10 words. The Thiels grew to love the signs, songs and characters – including Rachel, Alex and Leah – in the DVD series, and Maddie’s communication skyrocketed. Heidi’s parents even borrowed the DVDs so they could learn also.

Over the year’s Maddie’s hearing loss has heightened, requiring her to wear hearing aids. She is now attending Salem Heights Elementary School, where some classrooms have interpreters and some use Signing Time in their curriculum. Her preliminary testing has already come back showing that she knows all of her letters and many sight words, and her confidence with communication has dramatically increased – all because of sign language.

On September 27th, Maddie will have the opportunity to meet Rachel Coleman, who will be performing during the local Willamette Valley Down Syndrome Association (WVDSA) Buddy Walk at 10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. at the amphitheater located in Riverfront Park in Salem. Coleman will also be performing during a fund-raising concert to benefit the WVDSA. The concert will be held on September 26th at 6:30 p.m. at the Morningstar Community Church located at 4775 27th Ave SE.