Heading back to school can inspire a wealth of emotions in kids and parents alike, from excitement over meeting new students and teachers, to anxiety over purchasing new supplies and clothing. In 2016, Davis County Hospital decided step in to help give all area children an equal opportunity to succeed by creating the annual Back to School Resource Fair event.
The Back to School Resource Fair event was planned to unify community businesses and organizations to provide one large community-based program for Davis County children in grades kindergarten through sixth. Organizations joining the effort included the Community Child Abuse Prevention Coalition, area churches and service groups such as Kiwanis, Lions Club, Rotary, Davis County Hospital, local law enforcement, the Davis County School District and many more.
For many Davis County families, it is a challenge to buy school supplies, get the necessary medical tests and find resource information on the many other school-related decisions that seem to pile up just before the school year begins. To make it possible for children to enter school prepared, the Back to School Resource Fair event was born.
The initial plan was to hand out school supplies and backpacks to those who attended the event. Once the planning began, the event quickly changed directions from “this is what we can do” to “what else can we do?” Completely funded by private donations and in-kind contributions, this event introduced parents and children to a wide range of education, health and social services as they prepared for the upcoming school year.
With 34 vendors and organizations set-up at the event, parents and children were offered vision and dental screenings, free haircuts, health and wellness information, including immunization information. Lead testing was also available for children age six and younger. Additionally, the night was kept fun with a healthy meal, popcorn, door prizes, face painting and a balloon animal artist.
A great addition to the event was the opportunity to hand out more than 100 pairs of free shoes to children as well as Davis County school logo apparel. There were also stations for fingerprinting by local law enforcement agencies, Internet safety, hand-hygiene station, a local pediatrician, child abuse information and bicycle safety. In just the first year, 176 students in grades kindergarten through sixth were registered as they walked through the doors. The positive atmosphere was obvious the moment they walked into the building.
“Davis County is a rural community with a large percentage of low income families.” stated Missy Carson-Roark, Davis County Elementary principal. We have approximately 600 students in kindergarten through 6th grade, and roughly 45 percent are on the free and reduced price lunch program, which underscores the level of need within our community.”
“All children deserve the opportunity for a healthy start to the school year, regardless of need, that’s why all kids were invited to participate in this event,” said Sue Pankey, chief nursing officer at Davis County Hospital. “The community provided this opportunity not for personal satisfaction, but for the children to find the confidence they needed to be excited for the new school year and their future. You could see the confidence in the parents’ and children’s eyes as they exited the building that evening, which reinforced thoughts that the event was a success. The students had a new-found belief in themselves and felt valued and supported by our community at large.”
“It goes beyond ensuring each child has the necessary supplies; by providing these resources, we’ve automatically given them a potential push toward confidence,” said Lynn Fellinger, Davis County Public Health lead. “They are prepared with the ‘right tools to begin with and they can spend less time worrying about what they don’t have and focus strictly on the reason they’re there, to learn and grow. Our goal is to continue to expand and grow the event each year.”Share this story.