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Reflecting on OU Gaming Club’s Partnership with Oklahoma Children’s Hospital

By April 19, 2024Philanthropy3 min read

Bringing joy beyond the screen, members of the OU Gaming Club are making a difference in the Norman community as they lift spirits at a local children’s hospital.

In collaboration with Chris Aguilar, the gaming club’s connection at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital, OU Esports volunteers play video games with the children, host tournaments in games like Mario Kart and help out with bingo nights. All of this happens in The Zone, which is the hospital’s play and learning space for the children.

Prior to working at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital, Aguilar was part of a developing esports organization in Oklahoma City, called Equinox. After that opportunity dissolved, Aguilar began working at the children’s hospital, incorporating his knowledge of gaming. He eventually reached out to OU Esports and their partnership began.

The OU Gaming Club’s volunteering at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital highlights gaming’s capacity to bring joy and social interaction away from the screen through offering vital support to young patients. Their initiative showcases the positive impact gaming communities can have on the well-being of others.

“It’s a way for [the children] to mentally and physically relieve some stress and forget about the bad things in the world,” Jacob “Oculus” Ross, OU Esports community and labs coordinator said.

As a graduate assistant, Ross’s job as community and labs coordinator is to organize this type of community work and he tries to instill its importance in his ambassadors. He makes sure to inform club members of any volunteer opportunities and hopes more people will get involved.

“Maybe they see [my reminder] the first time or the 10th time and they’re not intrigued, and then maybe the 100th time they see it and decide to reach out and try something,” said Ross. “I’m just never going to give up.”

 

The club’s impact also includes fundraisers for the hospital. Last year’s OU Esports Bedlam event kicked off with a livestream from the hospital with donations going toward expanding and upgrading The Zone.

Elliott “Wind” Goldsmith, a volunteer and ambassador for OU Esports, took the opportunity as soon as their class schedule would allow it and has since helped out at multiple events including building Rainbow Road from Mario Kart for the Bedlam event.

“If you are thinking about wanting to help others, just go for it,” Goldsmith said. “I have met amazing people throughout my experiences with volunteering at the hospital.”

OU Esports volunteers logged over 450 hours at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital during the Fall 2023 semester. The club hopes to be “more intentional with [their] events and activities” in partnership with the hospital moving forward, according to the OU Esports 2024 newsletter.

Oklahoma Children’s Hospital is currently the main philanthropic endeavor OU Esports is directly involved in. However, the club partners with other organizations, like the Asian American Student Association, to assist in charity events across campus.

The current schedule sees volunteers going to the hospital every other week, with dates subject to students’ work and school schedules. To stay up to date with OU Esports’ community work or to get involved, visit the OU Gaming Club Discord.