Optimist Club aids community

Winnie Meyer, Reviews Editor

Rather than sitting through monotonous meetings and learning new year objectives, the Optimist Club has kicked off the year bowling, volunteering and having a good time at the Special Olympics in Oviedo.

The Optimist Club is one of 2600 international chapters under Junior Octagon Optimist International. It is classified under the adult level of the organization, and as a high school club, specializes in helping the children of the community.

“[We] help special needs children for any reason,” club sponsor Teresa Decio said.

The club works to support the community through programs such as BASE Camps, a children’s cancer foundation. Club members organized a weekend last May in which children and families impacted by cancer went bowling, had a water balloon fight, enjoyed a movie night and many other activities.

“All in all it was a safe and energetic environment that created a support system to let [patients] know they are not fighting alone,” co-president Trinity Rosette said.

The Optimist Club also works alongside Nemours Children’s Hospital, Boys Town, and especially Special Olympics, a world-wide organization through which children and adults with mental disabilities or special needs compete in sports from a local to an international level. The club helps out with several Special Olympics events, including track, soccer, tennis, volleyball, biking and bowling. They perform a multitude of tasks such as running scores, handing out awards and coaching athletes.

The club also volunteers at dances and proms held monthly at Riverside Park in Oviedo for teenagers with special needs. Volunteers hang out and enjoy dances like “The Cupid Shuffle” with teens.

“There’s lots of food, fun things to do, and dancing,” senior Emma Maxwell said. “It is a blast.”

Optimist Club members also benefit from their amount of community service. Hours earned through the club can go toward Bright Futures, and members can be awarded scholarships from the adult chapters of Optimist Club International.

Quality time spent helping out the younger generation of the community is another aspect enjoyed by club members.

“Everything you do just gives you that warm little feeling in your heart like ‘I just did something good for the world,’” Bradburn said.

The Optimist Club accepts new members all year round. Applications are located on the school website and in Decio’s classroom, where meetings are held every Thursday after school.