Local Strathmore business owner, Denise Geremia, has taken it upon herself to launch an Anime Club for youths in the community.

Geremia explained the idea for the club stemmed from a desire to help her daughter make friends and meet new people who share similar interests.

“I made a post on (the) ‘I Love Strathmore’ (Facebook Page) as an anonymous poster, and there ended up being a lot of parents whose kids are also having the same issues making friends,” she said. “A bunch of these kids are obsessed with anime, but it makes it a bit harder to make friends in their school when you’re obsessed with something that is very different from what other kids are into.”

Following the response from other parents regarding their kids’ mutual interests, Geremia decided to volunteer her store, Lil Hoots, to host the debut club meeting.

The club met for the first time, Jan. 11, with six kids coming out to participate, despite the adverse weather conditions. Geremia has been making efforts since then to coordinate with other parents to talk about hosting future meetings and making the club a regular occurrence. 

“The Strathmore Municipal Library has also offered to help host the events and organize some things because they have more time to put into it and they have a much bigger pool of resources,” said Geremia. “They are allowed to play movies, and they can actually have somebody who is focused on this club, so I have been also talking to them and seeing how they can help organize it. Hopefully this can become a much bigger thing than just having it at my store.”

Anime is a Japanese style of animated art which can be thought of similarly to American cartoons. Stories are told across a wide host of genres with often very exaggerated or over the top characters. 

Themes can range between fantasy, science fiction, sports, music, superheroes, comedy, romance, slice of life, among just about anything else. Anime can be original series, or they may be based off of manga books, which are similar in concept to graphic novels.

Geremia added some of the kids who attended the first Anime Club meeting even came in cosplay – dressed in costume, of their favourite characters. 

“If you are just going to one school and none of the kids at that particular school are into that, you start to assume that you are different or you are strange, or it is something that nobody else is into, and then all of a sudden, there is this whole network of kids who are into the exact same thing that you are,” she said. “You can become yourself and be yourself and if a parent can step out of their own comfort zone and encourage a love or obsession that their children are into … they can help their kids bloom and go out and become who they actually are. If that is something that I can do for my daughter and some of these other kids, I will 100 per cent do it.”

The club was initially advertised for youths between 12 and 15 years of age, though one as young as 10- years-old attended the first club meeting. The idea is to encourage a youth demographic to have a safe place to be, but nobody will be excluded from the club. 

More information regarding the Anime Club is available through the Strathmore Anime Club Facebook page. Youth who may be interested are encouraged to talk to their parents or guardians about joining. Similarly, parents and guardians with children who share the interest are encouraged to reach out.

By John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jan 26, 2024 at 21:45

This item reprinted with permission from   Strathmore Times   Strathmore, Alberta

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