Children are the future of any society and children who are brought up with a belief in themselves and have a positive attitude are more likely to benefit the community.
Parents and teachers are vital in bringing out the best in kids, but since last September there is also a club in Cayman that aims to do exactly that and it is, quite aptly, named the Optimist Club .
Optimist Clubs have been around since 1919 and their aim is to encourage kids to be all they can be and to support them in their aims.
As a charity they are flexible, there are no hard and fast rules about how individual clubs should operate. Rather, they are encouraged to look at the needs of their own community and then act appropriately.
One of the main focuses of the club worldwide is their annual oratorical and essay contests.
The Optimist Club Cayman held their first oratorical competition in Cayman last May involving over 20 students from local schools.
Both the oratorical and the essay competition are scholarship contests for students to earn money towards their education as well as to compete overseas.
Elaine Harris, club president of Optimist says that the competition is not just about winning and she believes that the competition teaches deeper values. “It’s all about building confidence and getting young people to share their views with others and also having the experience of having their views challenged.”
The oratorical competition could not have taken place without the input of the schools and last month the Optimist Club had a get together to thank the principals of the schools for their support and also to announce the subject matter for the essay and oratorical debate for this year. Minister of Education Rolston Anglin, one of the guest speakers, was fulsome in his praise of the work which teachers do. He also said how impressed he was with the quality of the first debate and the research that had gone into it .
This year Harris hopes that they can go a stage further with the competition. “We would like to generate sufficient support not only for the scholarships but also to have the competition televised which would further promote the students and their schools.” She would also like to see the Optimist club branch out in other directions.“ In the near future we are holding internet safety seminars for students and their parents and we are hoping that our kids clothes drive will kick off soon to support the Department of Children and Family services.” The clothes drive would get members of the club collecting and sorting clothing which are in good condition and clean to provide for those in need.
She also sees the club as helping existing children’s programmes where they need it. “We will also be volunteering in the various districts as well to partner in other children programmes that are in dire need of some extra support.”
Anglin in his talk praised the Optimist creed “for the way it encouraged a positive attitude in the young .”
The topic for the Optimist International Essay Contest this year is “The Internet: Today’s Evolution or Tomorrow’s Menace?” and for the Oratorical Contest: “Cyber Communication: Progress or Problem?”
The Optimist Creed
To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind
To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best
To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet
To forget the mistakes of the past and to press on to the greater achievements of the future
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.