As Little Rock children began another school year, many families got a helping hand as University of Arkansas at Little Rock Children’s International distributed back-to-school supplies to more than 900 children.
In partnership with theJunior League of Little Rock, UALR Children’s International held the Back to School Jamboree Saturday, Aug. 13, at the UALR Jack Stephens Center. The event also featured a community resource fair, free health and dental screenings, health education activities, and games.
“We do this event to make sure that the kids have what they need to go back to school, but the event has gotten much larger in the last few years,” said Stephanie Jones, UALR Children International volunteer and outreach coordinator. “By partnering with the Junior League, we have been able to expand our reach and provide our families with more resources.”
The center was packed as more than 1,900 people attended the community event. Of those, 70 children received sports physicals, 115 kids received vision screenings, and 539 children received dental screenings.
The American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists gave free blood sugar and blood pressure screenings to adults, while children participated in games to learn about diabetes, heart health, and medication safety.
Brad Briggs, a third year student at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Pharmacy, said it is important for parents to teach their children about health.
“We give these screenings so adults can pass this information to their kids and be a good example to their kids,” Briggs said. “One day, we hope their children will be healthy adults because of what their parents learned.”
Outside the Jack Stephens Center, the carnival atmosphere continued with a free lunch of hotdogs, fresh fruit, and chips. Meanwhile, members of the community donated time and equipment to entertain the masses of children who attended the jamboree.
Redstone Construction and Razorback Concrete Co. provided concrete mixer trucks. Firefighters from the Little Rock Fire Department were on hand with a fire truck, while ABF Freight supplied a big rig.
Michael Bell, of Redstone Construction, laughed as children excitedly climbed into the bed of his truck and turned on the concrete mixer. Brothers and sisters hastily covered their ears while their siblings honked the horn as loudly as possible.
“This is my first year attending this event,” Bell said. “We wanted to show the families that we care, and that we are trying to be a part of the community.”
Park rangers with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were on hand to give kids the chance to captain a ranger airboat from Millwood Lake. The rangers were promoting water safety and life jacket usage.
Miranda Davis, of Cabot, attended the jamboree with her husband and three children. Her 2-year-old son, James, happily “steered” the airboat while waving to his mother and older sisters.
“I’m not sure they will be able to get him off that boat,” Davis joked. “We’ve been on the fire truck and the other vehicles. My son is all about trucks and cars right now. Everyone has been so nice, and I think this is a good thing they are doing for the children and the community.”
In the upper right photo, brothers Alex and Joel Banilla have fun at the UALR Children International Back to School Jamboree. Photo submitted by Stephanie Jones.