Back to School Event Grants Supplies, Medical Services
A bright sun surrounded by a blue sky rested above the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum as parents and their school aged children filled the exterior plaza for the 15th Annual Back to School Health & Family Festival, Saturday August 24, sponsored by Mothers In Action, The Bakewell Company and Brotherhood Crusade. Serving children from the ages of five to fifteen, the Back to School event featured health screenings, haircuts, school supplies, immunizations and the needed LAUSD Mandatory Whooping Cough shots.
Known as the largest “Back to School” giveaway in the country, co-chairs included County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, City Council President Herb Wesson, Councilmember Bernard Parks, Councilmember Curren Price, Assemblymember Isadore Hall, Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer, Senator Rod Wright, Fabian Wesson, and Jan Perry.
Danny J. Bakewell Sr., Co-Founder of the Back to School event showed up with bright eyes that widened upon seeing the youth come out to get, not only the needed school supplies, but the vastly important free health screenings.
Elementary students, Jasmine, 10, Tiffany, 8 and baby sister Allison, 4, accompanied by their mother Anique, from the Los Angeles area, who took advantage of the Back to School event for the first time, came from the Hearing Exams with three perfect hearing scores. “The sounds were a little hard, because it was so tiny with light sounds,” said Jasmine, who admitted that she still had fun, despite the challenge of smiling and listening to the hearing test over the anxious crowd’s chatter.
“We did the blood pressure stand, and the Earthquake Bus,” said Anique, holding her daughters three bags of supplies and reading materials. “We are heading around to the dental and everything else they have around there.”
Although the main prizes where the coveted ‘Mothers in Action Backpacks’ stuffed with supplies and the School Uniform booth, that both required visits to several stations and a stamped ‘report card’ to redeem, other ‘non-grading’ booths gave out plenty of pencils, notebooks, pens, rulers, crayons, calculators and other valuable school supplies. Among those sponsoring booths were Bank of America, Sigma Gamma Ro Sorority, Senator Roderick D. Wright, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, The Southern California Gas Company, Radio Free 102.3 FM KJLH, SEIU Local 721, The Cochran Firm of Los Angeles, Pava World, One United Bank, City of Los Angeles Department of Public Works, the Brotherhood Crusade, L.A. Watts Times, Sabriya’s Castle of Fun Foundation and C. W. Driver Construction Company.
Students were seen by medical staff from Cedars-Sinai and the Children’s Dental Center of Greater Los Angeles for real checkups and shots. The Earthquake Bus shook students up with a simulated in-class earthquake via powerful hydraulics, and the Southern California Gas Company’s emergency situation scaled model display educated both parents and students on what to do when there is an emergency or post disaster situation with downed power lines and other dangerous conditions.
Several vendors provided mid-day snacks and refreshing beverages. Among the crowd favorite was the Hot Dog Lady, whose turkey dogs were a big hit all day. Other vendors provided funnel cakes, tacos and ice cream to hungry students waiting in the long lines.
The success of the Back to School event is mainly due to the generous hearts of its sponsors who through Mothers In Action, led by Brenda Marsh-Mitchel, made sure that the underprivileged families arriving for the drive didn’t have to pay for any of the services, including food and drink. “I just want to thank everyone who helped out with back to school,” said Ms. Marsh-Mitchel, “like the 1 United Bank employees who gave their own money and bought back to school supplies.”
Ms. Marsh-Mitchel went on to thank One Church of Christ’s pastor Joseph Hamilton who has provided the school uniforms for the past four years, Daysha Awston, Vacy Thomas, Janet Lloyd, Reggie Thomas, Councilmember Curran Price, Fabien Weston, the County of Los Angeles and the University of Southern California for their support.