The nine teenagers working in the campground and trails burned by last year’s wildfire have to appreciate North Cascades National Park without sound. Suddenly, the wind, rivers, waterfalls and birds are silent.
That’s because they happen to be deaf.
The teens are getting paid to do land conservation work in the national parks in five-week summer shifts. They’re from a program called Northwest Youth Corps.
Northwest Youth Corps matches teens and young adults from the deaf community with summer jobs and skills programs where they interact with other deaf and hearing people to build teamwork and job skills.
“I feel like deaf people can catch things better with their eyes, maybe better than people who aren't deaf,” said Martiza Cruz, a teen from Oregon.
“Sometimes hearing people look at deaf people like we can't do everything a hearing person can do,” said 17-year-old John Smart. “Oh, you have to communicate in a different way. You have to write instead of talk. But we're human. We can do anything.”
The group has also performed work for Olympic National Park.