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Signing Santa Warms Kids Hearts

SWEETWATER (CBSMiami) - For many kids, sitting on Santa's lap, posing for a picture with him, and telling him all the gifts they want for Christmas is a holiday tradition they never miss.

But for kids who are deaf and hard of hearing, that last part is usually impossible.

This year, for the first time in her life, 11-year-old Fabiola Awad got to tell Santa her Christmas wishlist, in her own language: American Sign Language.

And what a wishlist it is.

"Well, I told him that I wanted a pony, and an iPhone and iPad 2," Awad said through a translator.

Fabiola is one of dozens of kids who are deaf or hard of hearing who came from different Miami-Dade schools to interact with this signing Santa.

It was a special treat that they appreciate. Many were sure to sign, thank you, when Santa sent them off with a small present.

"Well, he asked me what I wanted and I told him I want a phone," said 11-year-old Adriana Bernaldes excitedly, through a translator.

Their teachers are grateful the students get to have this experience.

"It's awesome, to communicate with Santa Claus and to communicate with their peers," said Ilene Ray, a teacher for the deaf and hard of hearing for Miami-Dade Schools.

This is the second year the Dolphin Mall has held this signing Santa event; and mall managers plan to keep it as an annual tradition, making sure that the experience every kid deserves, is possible.

"Typically their whole lives they've only been able to sit on his lap and take a picture with him and that's it but for the last 2 years they've been able to come here and tell him what they want for Christmas and be able to communicate with him," smiled mall spokesperson Maynel Alvarez-Requejo.

The kids also got to play in the snow communicating with each other, and giggling out loud.

It makes this magical holiday even more real to 10-year-old Jennifer Barrios who's adamant she's been a good girl this year.

And after a fun-filled day enjoying the season like other kids get to, Jennifer signed a message for everyone, "Merry Christmas!"

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