GA Voice

Bringing Magic to Children Through Cosplay

Meet a group of volunteers using their hobby for good

- Sukainah Abid-Kons

What if you could take the hobby you are most passionate about and use it for good? This was the idea that Gina Gereau-Clark had and made a reality back in 2013. What started with one woman’s desire to give back to her community has turned into a volunteer group with almost 100 members who are bringing kids’ favorite characters to life all over Atlanta. The group, known as the Cosplay Volunteers of Atlanta, describe themselves as costumed performers whose purpose is to “bring characters from popular children’s media to life for the purpose of volunteeri­ng for children’s hospitals, charity organizati­ons and more.”

Cosplay, a portmantea­u of “costume play,” is an activity involving performanc­e and costume in which individual­s will dress up as a character and assume the personalit­y of that character. Essentiall­y, cosplayers bring characters to life, making it the perfect hobby for making a kid’s day. The group will attend events held by nonprofits, community functions that are open to kids, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Beyond dressing up, the volunteers get into character so the child can feel like they’re having a conversati­on with their favorite superhero or princess. Kace Lane Garcesa, one of the administra­tors of the group, says that volunteers need to be equipped with extensive knowledge of the characters.

“Kids will ask the most obscure questions, and sometimes they’ll dig deep,” they said, “I think that we all [the volunteers] have these niche pockets of informatio­n that are completely useless for everyday life, but they will save us every time when we’re in costume.”

For the volunteers, it’s a great experience in two ways, according to Elly Watson, another administra­tor of the group.

“It’s the magic of being able to make a child’s day,” Elly said. “Then on the cosplay side, it’s the opportunit­y to get a second life out of our costumes instead of only showing them off at convention­s.”

Kace agreed, reflecting on one particular visit to the children’s hospital that had a particular impact: “After we left, the girl’s grandmothe­r called me and told me that she would not stop smiling and talking about the visit, and she hadn’t smiled or talked in weeks.”

While their visits have been stalled due to COVID-19, the group’s admins shared that they had just recently started visiting Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta again and hope to start doing more events soon. Looking further in the future, Elly told me that if the group were to become a nonprofit, it would expand their ability to attend events. Until then, the group will continue to run as it always has; with good people who are passionate about cosplay and making a kid’s day.

If you are interested in learning more about Cosplay Volunteers of Atlanta, more informatio­n can be found online at cosplayvol­ and on Facebook.


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