By Niamh Shakleton
A teenager has taught herself sign language to help her disabled brother learn to communicate.
Isabella Evans, 13, from Cardiff, Wales decided to teach herself sign language at just nine years old when her brother Lucus, now seven, was struggling to communicate with his family due to having Down Syndrome.
Isabella’s siblings, Alexander, nine, and Indiana, five, get involved with the signing along with parents Kellie and Dom, both 41, as well.
Kellie, a carer, said: “When Lucus was a baby, we all started learning the odd words in sign language so we could help him communicate with us when he needed something.
“Isabella took to it really well and kept teaching herself more and more – then at the age of 11 she did her first video signing to Clean Bandit’s ‘Rockabye’.
“Whilst she was practising the song, a family friend brought their son over, who has Down Syndrome like Lucus, and he was watching Isabella in awe.
“He then started joining in with what Isabella was doing and it was one of the sweetest things I’ve ever seen.
“I filmed it and posted the video on my personal Facebook and within a few days it had over 30,000 views.
“We were amazed by the response we got!”
Isabella has since set up her own Instagram, Facebook and YouTube channel where she’s made dozens of different videos of her signing different songs.
She now boasts a whopping 55,000 followers on Instagram with some famous names like Grace Chatto from Clean Bandit and actor Sam Humphrey, from the Greatest Showman, following her.
Isabella said: “I’ve had such a great response off people about my videos – I’ve had people all overt the world message me saying how much they like them.
“I love getting my brothers, sister and parents involved as it’s really helped us bond as a family, especially as we know it’s to help Lucas.
“My little sister Indiana is actually really shy, but she’s come out of her shell a bit more since doing the videos with me.”
Isabella is looking to make her town of Bridgend ‘sign friendly’ and has even been to a local hairdressers to teach the staff there some common words and phrases they could use with their customers.
The inspirational 13-year-old is looking to set up free classes for local people for them to learn sign language including going into primary schools to teach children.
She added: “I’d love to make Bridgend more sign friendly and then move on to help other areas too!
“We’ve noticed Lucus is doing really well since I’ve started doing my ‘sign of the day’ videos – Indiana is growing more confident with it which is amazing to see and Alexander is getting better too despite his cerebral palsy.
“Lucus really does inspire me and makes me want to be a better person.
“Every day he shows me that I can achieve anything I put my mind to.”
Isabella is petitioning to for more Welsh schools to use Makaton sign language through an online petition – you’re able to sign it here: https://www.assembly.wales/en/gethome/e-petitions/Pages/petitiondetail.aspx?PetitionID=1535
To watch Isabella’s videos, find her on Instagram @IsabellaSigns