"I have to say, it was great getting the first 9 [from the judges] of the whole season," DiMarco tells PEOPLE via his translator of his and partner Peta Murgatroyd's success during last week's episode. "It's an honor, and I feel like its not just about me. Of course, I'm bringing 100 percent effort to the dance but also at the same time it's an opportunity to make a statement – an opportunity to reframe how people look at the deaf community and the betterment of deaf youth."
With that opportunity in mind, DiMarco says choosing which character to embody for Disney Week tonight was easy.
"We are doing a samba for Tarzan," says the model. "I feel feel like the two of us have a lot in common ... Tarzan, growing up, had a different culture. And Tarzan knew and was very aware of his own culture until other people came in and actually told him that he needed to change."
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"Tarzan was upset about this but what Tarzan actually did – he took a look at their culture and understood what they had to offer, but he knew that his was different and he he wanted to go back to his own culture, which correlates with how I was raised," he continues. "I was raised in a deaf family. I embody deaf culture and I know what is best for me and for future generations. There are so many different cultures out there but it's all about mutual respect. Let their cultures thrive because they know what's best for themselves."
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And DiMarco has plans to take that message even further than the dance floor.
This weekend, he launched the Nyle DiMarco Foundation, which focuses on providing resources to hearing parents and their deaf children.
RELATED VIDEO: Nyle DiMarco's DWTS Vlog, Week 1
"We want to ... be able to provide resources that are evidence-based where parents, if they need those resources, they can come to us and we will provide them with those resources and focusing on bilingual education," he says of urging hearing parents to learn and teach their children American Sign Language even if they are going to fit their child with a cochlear implant. A lot of research says that bilingual education is going to benefit deaf children in the long run."
Season 22 of Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC. To vote for DiMarco and Murgatroyd, dial 1-800-868-3409.
For more on the Nyle DiMarco Foundation, visit nyledimarcofoundation.com