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Millcreek Journal

Students take care of business at DeafTown USA

Nov 18, 2021 02:28PM ● By Rachel Dalrymple

DeafTown USA’s mayor addresses the residents at the end of the day. (Rachel Dalrymple/City Journals)

By Rachel Dalrymple | [email protected]

They say Rome wasn’t built in a day. DeafTown USA, on the other hand, was built in just one Friday morning. On Oct. 15, 55 students from Utah and Idaho entered the Discovery Gateway Junior Achievement Center to set up a thriving city complete with a mayor, citizens and over 20 local businesses. 

As the students operated DeafTown USA, they learned about financial literacy, business operations and independent living. All communication was done through American Sign Language, the native language for the students in attendance. 

The Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind collaborated with Junior Achievement of Utah to bring DeafTown USA to life. Junior Achievement City has locations all over the country where students experience being a part of a community and participate in a simulated local economy. Utah’s Junior Achievement City is located at the Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum in downtown Salt Lake City. The 10,000-square-foot space teaches students about the collaboration, critical thinking and creativity it takes to be a part of a strong community. 

Throughout the day at DeafTown USA, each student took on a different role as a citizen in the community. The students operate banks, manage budgets and vote for a mayor. At the end of the day, the elected mayor announced the citizens of the day, handed out other awards and invited various community members to the stage to address the audience.

Jackson Fowler played the role of Rocky Mountain Power CEO. He explained the business initiatives he worked on with his company at DeafTown USA. He led his company in encouraging other businesses in the town to achieve energy efficiency and improve their environmental sustainability.

He said, “We’re trying to go green, so we want our businesses to be 100% green. We weren’t able to fully meet those standards, but all of the citizens worked really hard in helping our environment. I’m happy about reaching 47.2% efficiency.”

Later, Braden, the CEO of DeafTown USA’s United Way, also addressed the audience. He led his company in raising money to help the community. He described the success they had in his address. He said, “We want to be part of the change in this community. We want to work together and come up with new ideas. I’m happy to report that together we raised $25.50 for United Way. We also had many citizens stop by and volunteer their time.”

The Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind (USDB) leads the nation for high school completion for deaf students. The school prides itself on its personalized approach to education. The school focuses on teaching students about self-advocacy through innovative methods. Utah is also the only state where graduation rates for deaf and hard of hearing students are higher than for hearing students. 

The education deaf students receive in Utah may be the reason for the major success the students had in running DeafTown USA. Students successfully led businesses like RC Willey, Maverick, Zions Bank and Larry H. Miller in the simulated economy experience. These students showed their ability to problem solve and expertly manage real-life situations.