Miami-Dade County

Friends and Neighbors: Performance brings theater to deaf people

When Victor Solano founded the South Florida Deaf Recreation Association, his goal was to “lift up those who are unseen or voiceless in our community and to expand compassion to all individuals within our diverse and varied cultures,” said the group’s project director, Barbara Chotiner, in an email.

Now, with that mission in mind, the association has scheduled performances by the esteemed National Theatre of the Deaf. The two days of theater, especially for the children in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, will be Nov. 7-8 at Goodlet Park Theatre, 4200 W. Eighth Ave., Hialeah.

The performance, “A Show of Hands,” will be presented free to students on the first day. The Saturday show is open to the public with the cost for adults at $10, and children and students at $5. All shows will be performed in American Sign Language and spoken English.

One of the performers is New York actor Caitlin Hemmer, who is from Pembroke Pines. She was in Musical Miracles at Actors’ Playhouse and is a hearing actor who knows sign language.

The National Theatre of the Deaf, or NTD, has been performing throughout the nation and the world for 47 years.

“You will not want to miss being part of this beautiful, funny, moving and thought-provoking day of live theater,” Chotiner said. “There is something irreplaceable about live theater, especially when it is unique, profoundly engaging and extremely human. The National Theatre of the Deaf is all that and more. Our South Florida community is interesting, diverse and multicultural, and will appreciate this message of hope and inspiration.”

Bringing the NTD to South Florida is the first of the humanities programs for the nonprofit South Florida Deaf Recreation Association community, she said.

She said the group’s founder and president, Solano, “believes that being deaf does not define who he is or what he can accomplish. He believes in the importance of the inter-relatedness of human rights, social justice and the evolution of the human spirit.”

The performances are delivered as live theater in which there is no language barrier between those who can hear and those who cannot. They are presented in a dual language — sign language and the spoken word — at the same time.

“All children need a way to express themselves, but for many children who are deaf, these performances, conducted in their own language, in a relaxed atmosphere of fun and imagination, lead to a significantly stronger sense of identity. NTD takes stories from books, puts them into action and makes them visual. The performance becomes their book and children gain the motivation to go back to the book and read on their own,” Chotiner said.

“As we watch the performances, we come to understand that our lives connect to each other and that this live theater breaks barriers that sometimes separate us from people who are different,” she said. “We are very excited that we are bringing 200 deaf and hard-of-hearing students to see this wonderful live theater. We hope the community comes out the next day, too, to experience this rare theater event in South Florida. Not all live theater is the same, and this show is so different and fun and so inspirational.”

To learn more and purchase tickets for this opportunity to experience the National Theatre of the Deaf, visit You can also mail a check for tickets to SFDRA, 13727 SW 152nd St. #404, Miami, FL 33177.

Freedom ride

More than 700 members of the Everglades Bicycle Club participated in the 12th annual Freedom Ride at Homestead-Miami Speedway to benefit the Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans, a branch of Achilles International.

More than 100 spectators lined the routes for the race. The Freedom Team of handcyclists, with their sponsoring cyclist-buddies, led the group on the ride. They started with a lap around the 1.5-mile track that hosts NASCAR’s Championships in November.

The different cycling courses, ranging from 10 to 100 miles long, wound through South Miami-Dade County and Key Largo. The Honda Gold Wing motorcycle club members were the Freedom Team escorts to ensure safe road passage for all. After the ride, there was a Family Festival with music, entertainment and lunch.

Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans was launched in 2004 by Achilles International to give military veterans an “opportunity to be active, build confidence and self-esteem, and achieve personal growth and goals.”

Members use handcycles to ride and compete in marathons and events, “overcoming physical limitations by using cycling as a way to rehabilitate, train and participate in mainstream athletic endeavors.” The local Achilles International chapter works with the Miami VA Hospital and Jackson Health System to provide support and services for the wounded veterans.

For more visit and and

Don’t miss bazaar

You’ll find homemade Redland tropical jellies, fresh produce and holiday gifts at the famous Holiday Bazaar hosted by Silver Palm United Methodist Church. This one-day-only event will be held 9a.m. to 1p.m., Nov. 8 at 15855 SW 248 St., Homestead.

Remember, the bazaar is located on Coconut Palm Drive and not on Silver Palm Drive, as one would expect by the church’s name. It is across the street from Knaus Berry Farm and next to Redland Middle School.

Items for sale here are found in few other places. This bazaar has handmade gifts, a bake sale, varied small items from Aunt Lydia’s Closet, plants and the unique scoop lunch with the motto: “You buy a scoop of this and a scoop of that, and it’s all good!” For more, call the church office, Monday through Friday 9a.m.-1p.m., at 305-247-3769.

Big donation

Miami Children’s Health Foundation was the recipient of a $100,000 donation by Home Financing Center. The gift will assist with expansion and renovation of the Miami Children’s Hospital Emergency Room, which treats 95,000 children a year. Visit

The employee lounge in the ER will now be named in honor of Home Financing Center, the independently owned mortgage lender in South Florida.

If you have news for this column, please send it to Christina Mayo at

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