The 16th Annual Back to School Health & Family Festival was a resourceful and informative day for parents and kids as they head back to school.
The proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” is true and was put to great use at this year’s Mother's In Action (MIA) 16th Annual Back to School Health & Family Festival (BSHFF) July 19 from 10am- 3pm held at the L.A. Coliseum. The community got their fill of school and health resources while being entertained.
As the school year approaches, children in the Greater Los Angeles area often lack the resources they need to do well in school. The BSHFF helps, giving them the means to flourish throughout the school year.
“It’s very important for the youth, because a lot of kids in the community don’t have the resources to get the items they need to get them ready for school,” said a mother of two.
“A lot parents can’t afford to buy supplies at stores,” stated a KJLH rep. BSHFF appeals to the community, not to the commercial consumer.
The community advocates to organized events such as the BSHFF to decrease the socioeconomic state effecting children in school.
The festival was publically supported by chair, Fabian Wesson, co-chairs, Assemblymember Reginald Jones-Sawyer, Supervisor Mark Ridely-Thomas, L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson and Councilmember Curren Price. Co-founder Danny J. Bakewell, Sr. and Mother’s In Action President, Brenda Marsh-Mitchell administers the event every year.
“This is very important, there is a way in which the community builds family by supporting students getting ready to go back to school. It means education is important to the community, it means we have to have preparation, to do so, MIA developing an event like this shows that we are investing in our kids,” states Mark Ridely-Thomas.
“This is a continuation of MIA and civic engagement, it [BSHFF] keeps the profile up to let folks know we are engaged and involved and trying to make sure we have a better quality of life and get ready for school,” acknowledges Sebastian Ridley-Thomas.
Vendors and Sponsors from organizations included: Explorer One Ambulance & Medical Services, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Watts Health; Crenshaw Community Health Center, Low Cost Heath & Dental Services, YWCA Greater Los Angeles: Sexual Assault Crisis Services, One Christ Church, The Cochran Firm, United Long Term Care Workers, Brotherhood Crusade, Mother's Nutritional Center, Radio Free 102.3FM KJLH, The Bakewell Company, LA Watts Times and Los Angeles Sentinel.
Ranging from 5 through 15 years of age, the event hosted everything from health screenings, haircuts, immunizations, school supplies to school uniforms, for parents and their children.
Understanding the importance of a student’s performance in and out of the classroom, Mother’s in Action 16th Annual provided the community with scholastic, health and social resources for a successful school year.
“Kids may not have the social or economical means to get the items they need to function day-to- day in the classroom, like uniforms and backpacks,” said Michelle, a Cedars-Sinai Medical Center representative.
“It’s extremely important that people in the community get a chance to get ready for school, because if you’re not ready with pencils and papers, you are not ready to learn,” states Brian, a community health promoter for Watts Health.
On why the BSHFF is important, “It’s very important because we have to reach out to the community and make them aware of the services that are out there, the kids are our future,” states a rep from HHP Cares Housing People Properly.
Enthused about the event, participants came with a purpose. “I’m here to pick up some free school supplies for my kids,” said one father at the event. Children helped their peers and relatives get ready for school as a young man stated “I came here with my aunt for my little cousin.”
BSHFF provides school supplies for the school year, but instills the value of education in Los Angeles youth.
“It’s a good way to give back to the community while promoting higher education,” stated a KJLH rep.
The event tackled every angle of preparing LA’s youth for school including health and wellness. Crowds of children and their parents lined up to get their immunizations at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center booth and immunization records are required in order for children to start school.
During the school year, a revolving door of germs floats around causing students to get colds and viruses, thus keeping students out of school.
“It’s very important for them to have their immunizations before they go back to school so they can be healthy and we also have a dental center doing dental screenings, thousands of hours of school are lost every year because kids have dental pain, it’s important that their teeth are getting checked, along with hearing and vision,” said a Cedars-Sinai rep.
Alternative health services such as YWCA Greater Los Angeles: Sexual Assault Crisis Services gave a seminar on how children and can prevent themselves from being sexually assaulted. “We are focusing today specifically on human trafficking, it’s affecting our community, especially in South L.A. and Compton, we’re are trying to inform the parents and children of the tactics pimps are using to go after our kids, their recruiting children from very young ages of 8-to-10 years old on school grounds. We want to empower the parents so that they can protect their children and empower the kids so they can protect themselves,” states an Outreach and Program Specialist.
The YWCA’s seminar on Sexual assault was convenient for patrons, “this is my first time being here and I received some good information on sexual abuse,” said a caretaker woman stated referring to her foster child was molested.
Not only was the BSHFF informative and resourceful, but entertaining. It was a family day, as parents brought their children to prepare for the upcoming school year as well for a nice outing. Similar to a block party, the festival had music provided by KJLH, a hotdog, funnel cake, and lemonade stand, prizes and a jumper. KJLH provided live entertainment for the festival, upcoming artist on a school tour performed “Hershey kisses” and covered “The Worst” by Jhené Aiko.
Mother’s in Action would like to give a special thanks to all the sponsors, elected officials and businesses including Councilmen Herb Wesson & Curren Price, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Assemblymembers Isadore Hall & Reggie Jones-Sawyer, Senator Rod Wright, George McKenna, Brotherhood Crusade, One Church in Christ and Rev. Joseph Hamilton, City of Refuge YWCA Sexual Assault Crisis, Explorer One Ambulance and Medical Services, L.A. Sentinel, L.A. Watts Times, Radio Free KJLH, Timothy Holmes at Stakely’s Barber Salon and Bro. Ron. They would like to also thank—
The Cochran Firm
COACH for kids
Charles Drew University
Dr. Ernie Smith
Children’s Dental Services
Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program
RWM Fiber Inc.
Loyola Marymount University
P.A.V.A. (Pacific Asian Volunteer Association)
And to USC, the Coliseum and everyone else who came out…