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The Olympiad of Smiles in Villages

We are used to bragging about the successes of our Olympians

Radio Romania International
Radio Romania International

, 28.05.2024, 13:19

We are used to enjoying and bragging about the successes of our Olympians. Romanian teenagers seem very capable of winning medals at the mathematics, physics, chemistry, or computer science Olympiads in the country and abroad, which is really gratifying. In today’s column, however, we will talk about a project called the “Smile Olympics”, through which the organizer aims to bring joy and normality to the lives of children from villages, who live in disadvantaged conditions.

Simona Grigoraş Olaru, founding president of Topolino TA Association and of the “Azi copil, maine adult” (Today a child, tomorrow an adult) Association, told us about her story and her projects:

“The story is strong behind me, and guided my steps towards many projects and destiny. Topolino started in 2017, following the medical story of my child, who was born with a congenital malformation, and from there things took on a different meaning in my life. Officially, since 2017 I deal with children with medical and social challenges, and I also go to the more special cases in the villages, where you don’t get very often, except at Christmas or Easter. And I always go because over the years I have discovered many cases of children who are alone, raised only by grandparents, or only by older siblings. And somehow, slowly, slowly, many things took on a different meaning in my life, and I have stronger motivation with each case I encounter.”

The personal life story also prepared her to face challenges, and that’s how the “Smile Olympics in villages” project appeared, about which Simona Grigoraş Olaru told us:

“It’s a project from my soul, I initiated it in 2018, I started with it in Dor Mărunt commune, in Călăraşi, where with the director of the school in Dor Mărunt we gathered children with more special social situations from single-parent families, with a high risk of dropping out of school, children with medical conditions. And we thought about how to make these children, with a destiny perhaps a little sadder than others, to laugh, to gain beautiful memories, to have some examples of life (n.r. to be able to say) that they also want to become so when they are bigger. And, starting from this idea to bring smiles where there is sadness, we created this concept “Smile Olympics”, where we have a lot of activities, starting from the area of ​​education and awareness on nutrition, where we teach these children from the villages about what is good is to eat, cleaner food, and not just crackers and juices, try not to eat only sweets, and eat a healthy pepper from the garden, a cheese from a cow or a goat, it depends on what animals are around. Beyond this educational aspect, we went to a play area, because the “Olympiad of smiles” means playing a lot, and we initiated all kinds of team games for them, because I’m interested in the cohesion between them. At the end, we usually finish with a picnic, either on the sports field or on the grass, and there we sit and tell stories. We talk about what everyone has at home: a grandmother, a puppy, a cat, a sister.”

We found out that the participants do puzzle competitions, connect dots on a piece of paper by discovering clues to other games, or in the open air participate in ingeniously designed relay tests, so that later everything is rewarded with food that they, in general, only see in pictures, and with hygiene products.

Simona Grigoraş Olaru also announced another project:

“On June 1st we will go to the “Mother and Child” Settlement, for children who were victims of domestic violence, in Giurgiu. It is a parish settlement, SS. Michael and Gabriel, about 5 km away from the town of Giurgiu, where mothers and children who are in Child Protection live, precisely to give them a transition to peace and protection. Now, on June 1st, we go to laugh a lot, play, and bring them what they need: food, clothing, toys, games, furniture.”

And as an exhortation for all of us, Simona Grigoraş Olaru, founding president of the Topolino TA Association and the “Azi copil, maine adult” (Today a child, tomorrow an adult) Association, added:

“Let’s never forget where we started from and be good, because we don’t know in which direction life takes us. Throughout my life and journey, this is what I have learned! I have many projects that are in great need of support, through volunteers, through partnerships, because it is so simple to change things for the better around us, we just have to want to do so.”

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