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Tuesday, Sep. 16, 2014

Fair helps families prepare for school

Friday, August 4, 2006

(Photo)
Alice Clark shows Matthew Tadlock the items inside a backpack.
SIKESTON -- With snacks and booths with pamphlets, free face painting and the opportunity to win prizes, the Sikeston Field House definitely took on the feeling of a carnival Thursday.

And that was the intention of the Sikeston DAEOC Outreach Office's Back-to-

School Fair, which about 350 kindergarten through 12th graders attended with their parents.

"We're providing for those that may not be able to afford school supplies," said Kelechi Little, a community resource developer with DAEOC. The fair is offered for low-income families in Scott County.

Little and others involved in the fair compared school supply lists from schools throughout the county to compile a bag of school supplies for each student. "We went with what was in common," she said.

Families meandered through the maze of booths to learn more and take advantage of other services.

"It's general information for children and their parents," Little explained. "It's wonderful information to help them know what their resources are."

With eye and ear exams and other support all in one place, it was efficient for parents. "It saves some time," said Vanda Dixon, who was at the fair with her sons LeChristopher, 7, Percy, 8 and Martwan, 10.

Dixon, who has attended the fair with her children before, said she is thankful for the support she gets at back-to-school time, especially with checking immunization records and the exams offered.

"It's getting them ready health-wise," she said. "And the school supplies help a lot."

One of the first stops for Dixon's family was the booth set up by the Sikeston Public Library, where her sons got their faces painted. Kids and parents visiting the booth also received a back to school "survivor kit" -- a brown lunch bag with a red cross pasted on it -- that had some helpful school items in it, plus get a brochure explaining services offered. They could also take a look at a selection of books children's librarian Ann Thompson picked out, including popular series like Magic Tree House and award winners.

The library and Scott County Sheriff's office booths were two of the most popular for kids, Little speculated. Patricia Garner with the sheriff's office summarized her station as a "safety booth" and several children enjoyed getting their hands dirty while she took their fingerprints.

Making a mess was fun for the kids, and useful for parents, since the back side of the card included other information to be filled it, like eye color, birth marks, etc.

"It's very important for a parent to keep in case the child goes missing," Garner said. "If your child's missing you aren't thinking clearly.

Brenda Freed of the Scott County Health Department was at the fair checking immunization records and answering questions about WIC. Parents as Teachers also had a booth, where they looked for parents with children 3 and younger to join their program.

Families could find healthy recipes -- even some that kids could prepare -- at a University of Missouri Extension booth. They learned even more about nutrition and fitness at the Missouri Bootheel Healthy Start booth, where children filled out a quiz to see what they knew and liked about nutrition and fitness.

The data from the quizzes will be used to formulate exercise classes this fall, said Vannessa Frazier. And the kids weren't just encouraged by getting their opinions heard, but by getting a prize - a "floppy flyer" or a jump rope.

"They're fun," Frazier said. "And, that encourages them to fill out the survey."