A COURSE teaching sign language to the brothers and sisters of deaf and hearing impaired youngsters in the Tees Valley is available free of charge.

The CHILD Deaf Youth Project (CDYP) has been awarded a grant from Tees Valley Community Foundation to help fund the British Sign Language Level 1 course which is aimed at children aged from five to 11.

"This offer presents a great opportunity for better communication within families. It's the chance for siblings to learn a new language and have great fun while they learn," said Gill Adams, CDYP project co-ordinator.

"It will be unique and something that is greatly needed yet, to the best of our knowledge, is not available anywhere else in the Tees Valley.

"By learning BSL to level 1, the siblings of deaf and hearing impaired children can help the whole family to communicate better with each other."

The CHILD Deaf Youth project aims to combat isolation, prejudice and discrimination for those aged five to 25 who are deaf or hard of hearing in the Tees Valley - which includes Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton, Darlington and Redcar and Cleveland.

The 'Signing for Siblings' course will be held at The Deaf Centre in Middlesbrough on Thursdays - at the same time as the CDYP under-11 youth club - from 4pm until 6pm.

Children will attend for two hours each week for ten weeks up to Easter, then two hours each week up to July then the last part of the course is held during the summer break.

There are only 10 places available for the course. For details call CDYP on 01642-852165 or log onto www.cdyp.co.uk