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Annual Back 2 School Bash a smash with children, parents

Jennifer Sprouse • Aug 5, 2013 at 9:18 AM

Back-to-school shopping can be a lot of fun, but after purchasing a few three-ring binders, stocking up on mechanical pencils and not to mention buying the stacks of wide-rule paper that seem to run out almost instantly, the cost of just the supplies can definitely start to add up.

The second annual Back 2 School Bash, an event set up to help equip kids with some basic school supplies as well as distribute important school, health and lifestyle information to local parents, was held Saturday in the East Tennessee State University/Mountain States Health Alliance Athletics Center from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

The Bash, put on by the Johnson City and Washington County Coordinated School Health programs, Niswonger Children’s Hospital and United Healthcare, had around 100 volunteers in orange shirts manning booths and large inflatables, as well as giving out blue drawstring backpacks filled with back-to-school necessities.

Beth Cox, coordinated school health coordinator with Johnson City Schools, said the backpacks consisted of school supplies donated by several local businesses and churches, including Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church, UT Extension, Coalition for Kids, Heart of Tennessee Gymnastics and the Washington County-Johnson City Health Department.

“We went through the school systems to ask what they would need for school, and we got that list together and we sent them out to all these organizations and they responded greatly. We’re very lucky to have such good community involvement,” Cox said. “We have paper, glue, erasers, pencils and crayons for the little kids and colored pencils for the big kids.

“This is such a relief for families that they can come and get the essentials that they need to start a good school year without the cost, especially if you have more than one child,” she said. “We know the burden of trying to get school supplies for every child, so this takes a little bit of that burden off the families.”

Inside the mini dome, there were numerous kids activities, ranging from giant inflatable slides and bounce houses, to dancing, gymnastics and face painting.

“We have a lot of local people who work with young children to promote health and fitness,” Cox said. “We have Olson’s Martial Arts, we have Heart of Tennessee Gymnastics. We have AAA talking about the importance ... of not texting and driving. We have our schools here.”

Some of the other local businesses and organizations represented included the Gray Fossil Site, Highlands Fellowship and Chick-fil-A.

Regina Guess, along with her two children, Reagan, 8, and Avery, 7, said they were enjoying the event as a family.

“They love it. They’ve enjoyed the gymnastics and the dancing. They love all of that,” Guess said.

She said she’s enjoyed “the variety of activities that they offer, plus the education behind it. They’ve got education in regard to being physically active.”

Guess said the education factors of the event, which included demonstrations and booths set up to talk about the lungs, heart and why smoking is bad for you, really help to reinforce what she’s already teaching her children at home.

Cox said the Back 2 School Bash is just as important for the schoolchildren as it is for the parents.

“The thing that I like most about this is it is community and schools coming together to make an impact on a child’s life,” she said. “It may be as simple as passing out school supplies, but it’s also much bigger than that. It’s kids excited about going back to school, it’s families having some reassurance because they’ve been given information that will help them prepare for their child to go back to school and ... they also make face-to-face contact with other community agencies that ... they may need in the future.”

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