SAFETY ON WHEELS
In addition to observing and helping to promote National Bicycle Safety Week, we seek to provide programs throughout the year in order to maintain public awareness of this vital issue as well as promote skill and expertise among our young riders. To accomplish this, we enlist the help of the American Automobile Association (AAA), who provide us with a mobile bicycle testing unit. A qualified bicycle mechanic is usually requested to be present. In addition, we try to provide bicycle licensing during these events, through the Sheriff Explorers group, if at all possible. An obstacle course is set up to challenge the skill of the riders. Prior to commencing the course, the bicycles are examined by a qualified mechanic and tested on the bicycle unit to ensure it is in proper working condition. Minor mechanical adjustments are made if necessary. Owners of the bicycles are informed if any safety equipment is missing, such as reflectors, handlegrips, chain guard, etc. Participants are required to wear helmets and are tested for knowledge of hand signals, braking reaction, and general rules of safe bicycle riding.
The Junior Optimist Club is formed at the Junior High School Level. At the High School level, it is called an Octagon Club. The basic tenets and doctrine of Optimist International are adopted, and the adult club which forms this club acts as their sponsor. An adult club is more or less on their own after it is formed. The Junior Optimist and Octagon clubs however, retain the sponsoring club in an active advisory role. The Junior club has the same degree of autonomy enjoyed by all Optimist Clubs, provided they fall within the general parameters of Optimist International guidelines. They enjoy great latitude in their choice and times of meeting, projects they choose to undertake, fund raisers, socials, etc. Because the Optimist organization has firmly established a highly respected reputation, the youth have found it to be an excellent platform from which to launch projects directed at issues which occupy their concerns. Youth who participate learn to develop leadership and social skills necessary to accomplish many of the tasks they undertake. The youth are well served by this educational process and the community is served through the projects accomplished.
OPTIMIST INTERNATIONAL JUNIOR WORLD GOLF CHAMPIONSHIPS
In December of 1995, Optimist International established a new event called the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships (OIJGC).
The OIJGC was created to provide an “olympic-village” milieu where children of all nations can experience different cultures and obtain a better cultural understanding of each other in the pursuit of world peace.
Toward this end, every evening will feature a fun function, providing an atmosphere conducive to friendship and camaraderie among themselves and Optimist volunteers.
Last year the first OIJGC was conducted at the Doral Golf Resort and Spa in Miami, Florida. It was a tremendous success with 501 junior golfers coming from about 20 countries including the U.S. and Canada, with an additional 500 parents and siblings and Optimists attending.
Our district junior golf chairs did an outstanding job and our participation by the districts was the highest it has ever been. About 4,000 junior golfers played in our 100+ qualifying tournaments.
This year, in 1996, the OIJGC will be conducted at the famous PGA National Golf Resort in Palm Beach, Florida. Due to the success of our first OIJGC at Doral, PGA National became aware of us and made a very generous offer. It expected that PGA National will be the long-term home of the OIJGC.
LPGA tour champion, Michelle McGann, has agreed to be our honorary chairperson. This was facilitated by PGA National. PGA National is also the home of the P.G.A. The golf courses at PGA National, designed by Tom Fazio, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, have hosted multiple PGA and Senior PGA tournaments.
This is an ongoing community service project adopted by our club, under the auspices of the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department. Our club owns our own fingerprint boards, and utilize “official” Kid Print cards furnished by the Sheriffs Department. (The Sheriffs Dept. has on occasion, borrowed our boards to use in field booking situations). The main objective is to provide parents with a reliable means of identifying their children in the event they become separated, noting that separation may not necessarily be due to sinister reasons. We found that a secondary benefit occurs because the parents (and often the child) feel a little more secure. After finger printing the children, the parent takes posession of the card. We perform our Operation Kid Print free of charge, upon the requst of any reputable community group, business or organization.
Optimist International, under whose guidelines and policy we operate, has established various “standard” projects for the clubs to perform. Accomplishing these projects can be part of qualifying for District, Regional or International recognition. One such project is our Oratorical Contest. Each of our clubs in the Zone, select a school, church or other organization to conduct a youth competition. Contestants between the age of eleven to sixteen must write and deliver a speech, with a specified title, five minutes in duration, in front of an audience and three judges. Optimist members cannot be judges, so qualified members of the community are selected for this task. There is a girl’s category and a boy’s category. The two winners at each club will compete at the Zone level. Those winners (one girl, one boy) will participate in an Area contest, between Zones, where those winners go on to the final, District level competition. The winners each receive a $1000 scholarship. Throughout these competitions, the participants and immediate family are “guests” of the Optimist Organization, with all travel expenses, meals and lodgings provided for.
Another program prescribed by Optimist International is our Respect For Law Week. Throughout the year, our membership keeps appraised of community activities and issues, especially where quality of life is affected. As a consequence of looking at the “sunny side of things,” we appreciate those individuals in our community who make positive contributions toward Law and Order issues. Thus, during our Respect For Law Week, our club nominates those who our members felt made a worthwhile contribution toward that end. One, or even several of those nominated will then be voted upon to be honored at our regular meeting during that week. The recipient(s) are usually invited to our regular meeting during this week in order to be our “program speaker,” but have not been notified that they are to be honored and receive an award. Some of our past recipients have been Commander Bob Spierer, former Captain of our SCV Sheriffs Substation; Officer Ralph Elvira, former public relations laison with the California Highway Patrol; the Sheriffs Explorer group; citizen Debbi Luck for her efforts against drunk driving and petition to get street lights along a dangerous section of Soledad Canyon Road in Canyon Country; the Honorable Judge Alan Rosenfield, Municipal Court Judge in Santa Clarita. A full list, by year, will later be posted to “click on” if you wish to view it.
YOUTH APPRECIATION WEEK
Optimist Youth Appreciation Week is held annually during the second week in November to honor the positive contributions of young people to society. The 4,300 Optimist clubs from across North America join in this special recognition of youth.
Optimist Youth Appreciation Week reminds the public of youth’s many positive accomplishments and spotlights young people’s importance as tomorrow’s leaders.