Photos by Joseph Walsh
The SeaTac community on Thursday (Aug. 14) held its 8th annual Back to School Fair (BTSF), which provides local families with a fun, safe, and supportive environment to ensure their children receive the proper vision, nutrition, medical, dental, and academic resources they need to be ready for school.
The BTSF was started eight years ago by SeaTac community leaders who were concerned that many SeaTac families face financial barriers when preparing their children for the new school year. The vision of the BTSF committee is to build support in the community that strengthens families and enhances the academic success of underserved youth. The outcomes for the event are to provide students the necessary school supplies to start school ready-for-success.
“The BTSF is an important resource for the SeaTac community as it puts school supplies in the hands of our students in need so that they can start the school year off on the right foot,” said Mia Gregerson, City of SeaTac Mayor. “This is a wonderful event and the smiles on the children’s faces is testimony to the value this event is providing the community.”
The Back to School Fair has become a high profile community event because service providers have learned that when it comes to delivering services, it no longer pays to do it alone. Local organizations, agencies, and businesses have come together to leverage resources, reduce family anxiety, and build community support for the greater good of our families.
This year the BTSF committee and volunteers distributed 2,100 backpacks filled with school supplies to SeaTac students. In total, about 4,000 people showed up at the Back to School Fair. With help from the BTSF sponsors and other community organizations, these families also received many important resources.
For example, thanks to funding from Comcast in partnership with Highline Schools Foundation, an internet tent was available complete with laptops, free internet service, and volunteers to help families navigate district resources online including, signing up for the free and reduced lunch program. Highline Public Schools was there helping families use their new mobile app—and hosted a We Are Highline photo booth with Comcast’s help. A new sponsor, Graham Trucking, was in attendance with a Hydro Plane simulator that ended up being a huge hit. United Health Care – Community Plan was at the fair providing information on accessing healthcare. Sesame Streets’ Elmo returned this year and took to the stage to sing and dance and get the kids excited for the upcoming school year. The Gene Juarez Academy was also at the BTSF and had seven enthusiastic stylists provide kids with free haircuts. Another great resource was the free dental check-ups provided by the organization Smile Partners. There, of course, were many other fantastic non-profits providing plenty of information and resources to families in the SeaTac community.
The BTSF Coalition was thrilled about another successful Back to School Fair. They are truly thankful to all of the sponsors, volunteers, and fair participants who made this 8th Annual BTSF a huge success. The committee hopes to continue growing the fair while remaining faithful to the vision of ensuring all SeaTac students are ready to start the school year off right. Given the success of this year’s fair, they are certain 2014/15 is going to be a good one for our students.
2014 Back to School Fair Sponsors:
Corporate: Comcast, Swedish Medical Center, Alaska Airlines, Matt Griffin YMCA, Coldwell Banker-Danforth & Associates, Recology/Cleanscapes, Molina Healthcare, Coordinated Care, United Healthcare-Community Plan, Community Health Plan of Washington, Gene Juarez, Graham Trucking, Rontra Freight, International Truck Leasing & Rental, Impact Studio Pro, Loudon Realty
Foundation: Windermere Foundation, Highline Schools Foundation
Non-Profit Collaborators: Angle Lake Neighborhood Church, Lutheran Community Service NW, Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, SOAR, World Vision, Smile Partners, Project Feast
Civic: City of SeaTac, SeaTac Police Department, Firefighters Local 2919, Highline School District, King County Library, Sound Transit
Service Clubs: Rotary Club of SeaTac, Exchange Club of Highline