Page last updated at 21:11 GMT, Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Sign language lessons for police

The officers have already put their new skills to use on the beat

A teenager with Down's Syndrome has been inspiring police in Sheffield by teaching them sign language.

Chris Sampson was invited to teach lessons at Woodseats Police Station once a month after he met a community support officer in the street.

The 18-year-old also has hearing problems, learning difficulties and a hole in his heart but is determined to help others pick up a valuable skill.

His mother Nicky said it had always been her son's dream to teach.

Ms Sampson, of Millhouses, Sheffield, said: "On the day Chris was born I saw a young man who was going to be restricted by his disabilities, but here Chris is further from the truth doing what he has always wanted to do - teach."

He doesn't let anything hold him back and in the words of Chris, he's as tough as old boots now
Mother Nicky Sampson

Already the new skill has proved useful to the officers.

Police community support officer Natalie Dixon said: "After the first lesson myself and another colleague came across a deaf young lad who wasn't able to speak to us and we managed to get his name and address out of him and take him home to his parents.

"His parents were so happy that we'd been able to communicate with him."

Mr Sampson's mother said that when Chris was born doctors did not hold out much hope for his future.

"Chris wasn't expected to live. He spent the first 11 weeks of his life in special care. He couldn't lift his head up at a year, he couldn't walk till he was five. Even on Down's Syndrome milestones he was way behind.

"He doesn't let anything hold him back and in the words of Chris, he's as tough as old boots now. He's had so much wrong with him, really he can cope with just about anything."

She added: "I can't put into words how proud I am."



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