- September 23, 2021
WINTER GARDEN When you’re a child battling cancer or other illnesses, it can be hard to come to terms with hospital stays becoming the norm.
That’s why something as simple as a handmade superhero cape can completely brighten a child’s day and make treatments more bearable.
So when West Orange High’s Student Government Association attended a recent conference and was introduced to the idea of Capes 4 Kids, the students knew it was something they wanted to be involved in.
A few weeks ago the Southern Association of Student Councils held its conference at host school Ocoee High, and that is where West Orange High seniors Delaney Dugger and Abby Boeneman got on board with the idea of making the capes.
SASC is the student-council conference for the southeast region, and SGA officers got to attend and see different speakers and participate in workshops. The cape project was one of the featured service projects.
“Kids at Children’s Miracle Network hospitals obviously spend a lot of time there, (so) we thought making capes for them to wear, play and run around in them would be a good idea,” Boeneman said. “We each put a personal message and decorated them how we wanted. We’re excited to deliver them and see the smiles on the kids’ faces.”
The Capes 4 Kids concept first became popular a couple of years ago in Australia, when a mother of two decided to do something that would give hospitalized children something to smile about.
Back in West Orange, each member of SGA was asked to bring in a plain, colored T-shirt from Jo-Ann Fabrics & Crafts or Walmart. From there, paint and other decorations were provided, and each student got to transform the T-shirts into superhero capes.
They worked all day on Friday, Nov. 10, making colorful capes that could transform a child to Wonder Woman or Superman. When all was said and done, the students ended up with about 200 capes.
“It was senior flip day, so that’s where the students get to flip with the teachers and administration,” said SGA adviser Leslie McMillan. “Delaney and Abby decided to flip with me, and at an officers meeting Delaney had the idea to make that the project to do with the class that day. Essentially Delaney and Abby led the service project that day during all six periods of the SGA class.”
CHILDREN’S MIRACLE NETWORK
The project fits in nicely with West Orange’s SGA’s main philanthropy, Warriorthon. The annual, mini dance marathon helps raise money for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, a nonprofit organization that raises funds for children's hospitals, medical research and community awareness of children's health issues. Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children is the local CMN hospital.
“With our dance marathon coming up we want to connect with the kids as much as we can so we thought this would be a great opportunity,” Dugger said. “We’re really excited to go see the kids and hopefully get to see them wear them and play around with them.”
During 2016’s Warriorthon, more than 600 students stood for six hours, danced the night away and ended up raising more than $31,000 for the kids — which Orange County Public Schools said was the highest amount raised in the state for a high-school dance marathon.
“Anything fundraising related we do goes to that,” McMillan said. “We have a $45,000 goal this year. Our theme all year the last couple of years has been essentially “#FTK,” so this was a neat way to do something else for the hospital. It’s very special to see.
“We have miracle kids that we directly interact with throughout Warriorthon, and to be able to see them grow throughout the years and get better or see how we impact their lives, it’s special to see that,” McMillan said.
The capes will be delivered to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children’s Child Life Center the week after Thanksgiving. They will be distributed to recreation rooms where children can play dress up, escape in a book or video game and get out of their hospital rooms for a bit.
“It’s a way for them to get out of the room for a bit but still be closely monitored, but they get to let loose and be a kid,” McMillan said. “That’s one of the big things CMN support, is paying for the arts and crafts, child-life specialists, equipment and games that go in to the Child Life Center.”
“I was proud of Delaney and I for being able to put it all together and excited to see how it impacts the kids at the hospital,” Boeneman said of their project.