Big Sister’s mentoring extends beyond sign language for deaf Newark girl

Summarized by Alyssa Smith, staff writer

Gabriela Cevallos had trouble communicating with her parents growing up, which led to rocky familial relationships due to the sense of isolation she felt. Her parents didn’t know sign language, and she didn’t know Spanish. In 2001, Cevallos’ family moved to Newark from Ecuador. Letta Cartwright, who is also deaf and worked as a teacher’s aide at Newark’s Bruce Street School for the Deaf, helped bridge the gap between Cevallos and her family. Recently, the Big Brothers Big Sisters State Association of New Jersey named Cartwright Big Sister of the Year for her unique relationship with Cevallos. Cartwright was always there for Cevallos, taking her to Deaf Fests and Deaf Chats and also on camping trips. Cevallos said, “She [Cartwright] showed me that just because you’re deaf you don’t have to let your disability stop you.”

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