by Carlos Montes de Oca
On Monday, Nov. 13, the LINK (Learning About Inclusion and Nurturing with Kindness) Club, along with the help of many of our Columbus High School student-athletes and cheerleaders, held the second Annual Football and Friendsgiving. In this event, the club held football and cheerleading clinics, as well as a large Friendsgiving meal for the kids from Great Heights Academy (GHA), ahead of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. This event helped members of the special needs community enjoy an eventful day full of outdoor fun, guided by Columbus students who set out to make it as enjoyable as possible.
Photos from L to R clockwise: Columbus cheerleaders carry a GHA cheerleader in cheer formation. Senior Aaron Arca poses with a GHA student on the football field. Iker Merino eats Friendsgiving lunch with two GHA students. Hector Chavez runs a football drill with a GHA student.
Students from GHA were able to not only have fun with each other, but also participate in playing and practicing sports with students from Columbus, later enjoy a delicious Friendsgiving meal during which everyone was talking, laughing, and having a good time.
The event was a huge success according to organizers, leaving all the kids who participated with a huge smile on their faces, whether they were participants or volunteers.
As senior football player Benjamin Blackburn put it, the kids were, "social, happy and energetic.”
LINK Club president and founder, senior John-Barry Bertematti said, "Events like this one are extremely important because they promote the importance of service and giving back to the community, especially that which is tailored for the inclusion of people with special needs.”
The club doesn’t just promote the inclusion of the special needs community. It also helps its members grow as people.
Blackburn said, “I feel extremely happy when I see the positive effects of LINK events on the children with special needs. Seeing the smiles on their faces makes you feel so good about yourself and the work you have done helping the community. I am grateful to be able to partake in these events and I wish we could hold them more often.”
Bertematti's hopes the club has a larger effect.
"I hope the club creates a ripple effect and encourages more service initiatives not only in Columbus but throughout the community," he said.
Under the leadership of the current president, Bertematti, the LINK club is setting a great example of what service means and how it can affect another person’s life.
For many, a simple game of football may not mean much, but for those who do not have the same opportunities as the rest of us, it can create a sense of belonging and fun that they may not experience as often as they would like.