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Students Help to Create Positive Tomorrows

by Lillian Ball

Jordan Reynolds and Megan Nee, both dance majors, enjoy making the Positive Tomorrows students’ costumes and accessories.

Each year at Halloween, students in OCU’s Ann Lacy School of American Dance and Entertainment provide a unique service to children at Positive Tomorrows, a forward-thinking elementary school and social services agency in Oklahoma City for families and their children who are experiencing homelessness. As part of the first-year costume lab, OCU students meet with every student at the school to find out what they want to be for Halloween and create a costume they can wear to Positive Tomorrows’ Halloween festivities. This provides service-learning opportunities to students and gives them a chance to improve their sewing skills while learning to design new costumes.

Since 2006, Executive Director Melanie Shelley has spearheaded the program within the school when she learned that Positive Tomorrows only had one bag of hand-me-down costumes being reused each year by the students. “I saw this need as an opportunity for OCU students to apply the skills they are learning in a service project that benefits the community,” said Shelley.

Originally, the costumes were made in the weeks before Halloween. However, OCU professor and customer Jessica Telfer redesigned the process so that the costumes are sewn on apron-like “blanks” throughout the year, and then altered to fit the Positive Tomorrows students onsite in October, which led to an increase in the efficiency of the project and allowed each OCU student to focus their skills on fewer costumes while fulfilling a child’s request. “The impact on students at Positive Tomorrows is very visible,” said Telfer. “Children who do not even have a home to call their own are now in possession of a one-of-a-kind Halloween costume that they get to keep. This has physical and emotional benefits for the students as well as getting to see members of the community working to help make things better.”

As one of these OCU students who had the opportunity to participate, Wyatt Fritts adds, “Working with Positive Tomorrows has been the most impactful experience I have had at OCU so far. I always loved Halloween as a kid, so being able to help bring the spooky Halloween spirit to these kids was a task I was extremely excited about. This project is more than just making a costume and completing an assignment — it’s about helping to bring hope when life gets a little cloudy.”

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