For the unaccompanied children we serve, enrolling in school can be a challenge for many reasons, including language issues and lack of financial resources to buy the supplies kids need. Access to education and support is essential to our client’s ability to succeed and thrive in their new lives in the United States. KIND offices across the country host back-to-school events to provide the information, support, supplies, and other resources our clients need to start the school year off well.
In the words of KIND Social Services Supervisor Natalie Segovia, “Starting school can be an exciting time, but also comes with challenges for some of our clients. Back-to-school events are important for our clients to feel supported, connected to the community, and encouraged. It is also helpful for kids to connect with KIND staff outside of a formal setting.” Below is a sampling of the events we hosted for our clients this year.
In Seattle, KIND staff hosted a summer picnic and field day at Seattle World School, where many clients attend. They celebrated back to school with tasty food, cold drinks, sports, games, art and mindfulness activities, a school supply giveaway, and a prize raffle. The older kids played soccer and spike ball while little ones played with paint, bubbles, and read beginner books. “The event was a great success,” said Social Services Supervisor Kimberly Manson. “The goal was to provide much-needed school supplies for the upcoming school year and to foster community among our youth and their families.”
KIND’s Baltimore office organized a donation drive for kids. Staff partnered with energy company Exelon which donated school supplies for 37 elementary, middle, and high school kids including book bags, notebooks, pens, and USB drives. Clients and their families met KIND staff and volunteers at Living Classrooms, a non-profit located in a local park in a neighborhood where many Baltimore city clients live. After getting their backpacks and other supplies, kids ate snacks, did arts and crafts, and decorated notebooks. One family arrived with five kids, the oldest two were KIND clients. Their parents expressed their gratitude for KIND’s support.
Staff at KIND’s Atlanta office held a gathering at a park and distributed back-to-school supplies to 50 clients aged 4 to 18. Each student received a bookbag with notebooks, a calculator, crayons or colored pencils, and a water bottle, all donated by a local organization. Social Services Coordinator Leslie Garcia made bookmarks to give to kids with positive affirmations in English and Spanish, such as, “Never stop learning,” and, “You are out of this world,” with a picture of an astronaut. KIND staff, kids, and their families socialized as they listened to music, ate Mexican paletas (popsicles), and played on the playground.
In Newark, KIND held a back-to-school event at the New Jersey Historical Society. KIND clients and their siblings received bookbags and other school supplies, shared lunch, and enjoyed activities such as Zumba, T-shirt decorating, and beading. The New Jersey Historical Society provided a tour of the museum to the kids.
The social services team at KIND’s New York City office plans to host a luncheon the first week of September. About thirty clients will attend to eat, play games, and receive school donations and toiletry kits. The Brooklyn Public Library will provide donations including book bags and school supplies. A partner organization, Brighter Bites, will give kids a presentation on nutrition and making healthy food choices at school and at home on a budget.
Best wishes to all of our clients heading back to school this fall!