Calvin Tran shoots a goal with special ed community

12 and under group playing at KIWIN’S round robin soccer fundraiser. Photo by Eden La Clair

by Madelyn Moua, Staff Photographer & Bethany Pham, Staff Writer

Last Saturday, KIWIN’S vice president, spirit captain and senior Calvin Tran hosted a soccer tournament for community members with special needs at Gisler Elementary School.

Tran was inspired by past events geared towards special needs students sponsored by Fountain Valley High School (FVHS) clubs and organizations to arrange his own event. Moreover, rising to the occasion and organizing the tournament was no real challenge to the seasoned activities coordinator.

“Last year, I saw an article about the special needs group at FVHS,” said Tran. “They played soccer, and I was so interested. I thought it was so cool that they were willing to do that. So then, I asked for their event organizer’s contact information. Once I got into contact with them, I applied for [money] through KIWIN’S Youth Opportunity Fund (YOF) and received it around March [2017]. From there, I started planning this event, going into depth, going through a lot of meetings. I’ve planned 30 events like this in the past for KIWIN’S alone, but this was the first time I was the event organizer.”

Tran joined KIWIN’S his sophomore year in 2015, due to his love for volunteering. He is an outgoing, carefree person whose cheerful attitude lifts the spirits of all around him and is immensely involved with school activities. He partakes in orchestra, Orangewood Foundation, Operation Smile while working at Ding Tea, the school cafeteria and Snow Bird Ice Cream.

“When I first joined KIWIN’S, I couldn’t handle it at first. It was way too crazy for me. But I decided to stay my sophomore year to give it a try. I always had a love of volunteering and making a difference during my middle school years. KIWIN’S was a way I could feel that moment again. Surrounded by the most friendliest people I have ever met with a clear passion of volunteering like me. I found my home here and stayed.”

The largest factor that motivated Tran’s organization of the soccer tournament was seeing how some FVHS students perceived their peers with special needs at being some sort of disadvantage. Tran wanted nothing more than to break this trend by encouraging socialization with special needs students and demonstrating their ability to work as a team.

“People think that special needs kids are at a disadvantage, that they don’t really know what they’re doing. However, seeing them out here, working really hard and having a great time can change that and shine them in a new light. It really warms my heart to see them be themselves.”

It’s clear that Tran truly understands the world of those with disabilities; one of his sisters has special needs. His experiences with her have taught him how much more similarities, rather than differences, he sees between ordinary people and those with disabilities.

“Whenever you see a special needs kid, just know that they’re just like us,” Tran said. “Know that they’re trying their 110% at everything they do. My sister is a special needs person, so she had a huge impact in helping me see through her eyes. Me, being her family member, it feels very much like seeing these mothers seeing their kids out here. My sister really did inspire me to go out there and have this whole service event.”