ARK Fun Day for Foster Children

Imagine a firefighter throwing water from a bucket, a chef cooking an egg or an athlete making a goal. A few of these professions and more were introduced to foster children of YMCA of Orange County this past Saturday, Feb. 23, during Advanced Recreation for Kids (ARK) Fun Day, organized by UC Irvine Circle K. The theme of this year’s ARK Fun Day was ‘Planning for the Future,’ a carnival to inspire kids to do well in school through games, workshops and performances.
ARK Fun Day, currently in its sixth year, is a long-standing tradition of UCI Circle K. Over the years, the organization has consistently worked with the YMCA of Orange County to put on a Fun Day for foster children in the area. The Fun Days are once a month and give kids the opportunity to explore and engage in new surroundings.
‘Out of the five Fun Days that I’ve been to, they have always been really fun and organized. The kids have a great time and enjoy themselves,’ said Peter Yu, alumnus of the class of 2007 and past president of UCI Circle K.
The theme of ‘Planning for the Future’ was planned in conjunction with the California-Nevada-Hawaii District Service Initiative (DSI), Push Out Poverty (POP). Each year, leaders of Circle K from California, Nevada and Hawaii decide on a service initiative they will work on for the upcoming school year. This year, through the DSI of POP, Circle K organizations on various campuses have focused on community service projects that relate to alleviation and awareness of homelessness.
The ARK Fun Day theme of ‘Planning for the Future’ emphasized the importance of taking the most from school to create a successful career.
‘At ARK Fun Day, the kids had fun playing the roles of different jobs through games. It was a wonderful experience to see the kids figure out what their strengths and interests were,’ said Doris Su, a second-year English major and chair of ARK Fun Day.
Although ARK Fun Day was started by UCI Circle K, it is a project put on through collaboration with different groups on campus. A large portion of the project was supported through funding from the Center for Service and Action as well as donations from the community. Likewise, student organizations such as UNICEF at UCI, World Health Organization of Students (WHOS) and Alpha Phi Omega participated as volunteers, and many acted as mentors to the foster children.
‘I was excited to participate in the Fun Day. It feels good to be able to act as a role model and be a kid, too, while you’re at it,’ said An Pham, a fifth-year public health major and co-president of WHOS.
The Fun Day began with a range of carnival games set up near the flagpole and administration building area. There were games like tic-tac-toe sac toss, hoop toss and fish-bowl toss with children winning prizes ranging from ‘ZOT’ bracelets to plastic kazoos. Volunteers staffed a face-painting booth and many of the kids came out with brightly decorated designs as well.
Next, children were ushered to the Moss Cove room in the Student Center for a series of workshops and games emphasizing different careers. The older children attended the COLORS workshop, which allowed students to figure out what kind of leadership qualities they possess and the various jobs that would suit these leadership qualities. The program, similar to workshops done by Reaffirming Ethnic Awareness and Community Harmony (REACH), piqued the interests of older students who asked workshop facilitators about their own college experience.
‘I liked helping the kids and telling about my own experience in college. It’s good to know how they think how college is going to be but then I can tell them how college is different or not different from what they think,’ said Deepthi Lankalapalli, a second-year biological science major.
During the second portion of the workshops, younger children were given the opportunity to play ‘career charades’ and act out different career choices. There were also games that emphasized job qualities such as the cup-stacking game for construction, architecture and demolition; the pin-the-tail-on-the dog game for animal care; and the spray-the-jellybean game for public defense.
‘The program has progressed a lot since we first planned it,’ said Madelyn McKittrick, a first-year chemistry major. ‘First it was a lot of games, then it got changed up