Mall visitors got to witness an incredibly touching moment on Saturday afternoon as Santa Claus used sign language to communicate with a 3-year-old non-vocal girl.
Santa Claus was set up at the Cleveland Centre in Middlesbrough, England, over the weekend, visiting with young children to find out what they wanted him to bring them for Christmas. When 3-year-old Mali Williams-Cody turn arrived, she jumped up on Santa’s lap, wearing a matching red hat. When Mali wouldn’t tell him what she wanted, Mali’s mother, Suzanne Williams, told the mall Santa, who asked for his real name not to be revealed, that she couldn’t talk very well. In return, the Santa asked Williams if she could sign. What happened next was a beautiful moment to say the least.
The Santa Claus tapped Mali on the shoulder and started communicating with her in the only way she knew how. Mali was able to communicate back with Santa using sign language, nods, and smiles.
“Obviously, she’s only three and she can’t communicate well,” Williams told ABC News. “But I didn’t expect him to sign back to her. When he started communicating with her it was a beautiful moment.”
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The mall Santa admitted that he wasn’t the best signer in the world, but insisted that all children should be given an equal amount of attention, so he simply did his best, and was able to find out exactly what Mali wanted for Christmas.
“She said she wanted a scooter and I asked if she wanted a dolly and she said she wanted some sweets,” Santa said. “She wasn’t communicating and I looked at her mom and she said she understands animals. I decided to go in and try my very best. I’m not the best signer in the world, but I think that every child should be given attention.”
Williams said her daughter is not deaf, but the doctors think she may have a slight mental delay that has kept her from catching on to speech as quickly as other children.
“It’s been over the last year that we’ve noticed,” Williams said. “She’ll get there; she’s just a little bit behind with speech.”
The video of the touching encounter was later uploaded to YouTube, and as of Thursday morning, it has been viewed over two million times.
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Those who got to see what happened first hand said they were very moved by the actions of the Santa Clause, many of them admitting that they were brought to tears, Today reports.
“It was incredible,” said Graeme Skillen, the Cleveland Shopping Centre manager. “As soon as it happened, the whole area just went silent. Everyone was just spellbound by it. People were crying in the crowd. Members of our security staff were almost crying. It was just an amazing moment.”
According to Skillen, the man who was paying Santa Claus was hired by the mall four years ago, partly because of his ability to work with children of all backgrounds.
“He works through the week at a school for children with special needs, so he learned the sign language via that,” Skillen said. “It was one of the things that really appealed to us. Obviously, he’s a great Santa anyway, but when he said that, that he was able to communicate and handle any kind of disability, we were really keen to get him in.”
[Photo via YouTube screenshot]