April 23, 2013

Optimist Clubs promote communication skills for students

Optimist International has three scholarship programs in which Optimist Clubs can participate by sponsoring a club level contest. The winners from the club level contest then move forward to a zone, regional, and/or district level competition where the winning student is awarded a $2,500 college scholarship. Funded through the Optimist International Foundation, Optimist Clubs annually award more than $150,000. I'd say that is pretty awesome.

However, many Optimist Clubs choose not to host the Optimist International Oratorical Contest, Essay Contest or Communications Contest for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. They say they have trouble reaching students. The challenge is both physical and mental. Often a club has difficulty navigating through the school district protocol and mentally, inspiring a 15-year old to write an essay when they might be doing, well, anything else, is not always an easy task. 

I want to take just a moment here to applaud the Optimist Clubs that do succeed in hosting these great events. By helping students develop their communications skills, you are helping in many ways that will benefit them throughout their lives. Learning to express ourselves, and to lift our voices appropriately and respectfully, makes for happier personal and professional relationships. You are helping children reach their full potential. 

For the Optimist Clubs that have been turned off by the barriers that the school systems may impose, some other outreach areas might be:
  • Home-school students
  • YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs or Community Center Classes
  • 21st Century Grant recipients 
  • Library
  • Church
  • PAL groups
  • Hospitals
  • Literacy Centers or Councils
The important thing is that you never give up. Students need this activity and when they visit your club to make their presentations, your club will find it even more rewarding than the students. I promise.

Photo credit:
(top) Caribbean District - Optimist International shared this photo of their CCDHH winners.
(bottom) Cape Gazette - The Optimist Club of Salisbury, MD shared this photo of their Oratorical Contest winners.

If you would like to see more winning photos, please visit the Experience Optimism Optimist International Scholarship Contestants  board on Pinterest. 
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