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Breaking the Barriers of Sound at Florence and Western Medical Clinic

July 10, 2010

Sarah Stern



Andy Padilla

Once a month, Real Medicine Foundation in collaboration with Health Net provides adult workshops educating the community of South Los Angeles on the benefits of living a “healthy lifestyle”. Health Net’s Andy Padilla and I engage the participants in low-impact exercises, many performed while sitting and utilizing resistance bands to increase their effectiveness. Discussions include the risks of smoking, alcohol and drug abuse along with healthy eating habits to lower cholesterol levels, risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Our most recent workshop brought about a surprise for us. About 10 minutes into the workshop, it became apparent that this month’s attendees were severely hearing impaired. The laughter and playfulness of the group warmed our hearts and we quickly adapted our workshop to try and accommodate their special needs.  Though my sign language is limited to the alphabet that I learned from my brother’s Boy Scout handbook 35 years ago, I was able to spell out the words necessary for everyone to feel a part of the workshop. The look on the women’s faces when they realized I was able to communicate with them in their own language, is one I will never forget-and the room lit up with smiles as we broke the barriers of sound.  

When the workshop ended, the room filled with hugs and Andy and I found ourselves discussing our experience for quite some time once the room had emptied. We never know what we will find when we enter the doors at Florence & Western, but this particular Thursday morning was one for the records.