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Saturday, June 25, 2022


UH brings children to college at mayor’s fest

mayor's fest

Thousands of underprivileged students grades kindergarten through fifth grade attended the Mayor’s Back to School Fest at UH to prepare for the coming school year, receiving donated items like backpacks and uniforms, as well as free health and vision screenings. Aisha Bouderdaben/The Daily Cougar

Despite the rain, thousands of families attended the mayor’s third annual Back to School Fest on Saturday at UH, an event to help students gear up for the upcoming school year.

The Shellsponsored event lasted from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. and aimed to help 25,000 underprivileged students from kindergarten through fifth grade get their school necessities including backpacks, uniforms, immunizations, a hair cut voucher, and more. In addition to this, students could get a health screening, which included a vision screening provided by the UH College of Optometry.

The annual Back to School Fest had not been hosted at UH in the past, but was held on campus to encourage students to attend college. In doing so, the event may have found its new home.

“I’ve heard from a lot of people that there are a lot of pleas for it to be here on campus because at the George R. Brown, where it’s been in the past, is such a large facility and there’s a lot of walking rather than just having everything in one room,” Student Government Association President Cedric Bandoh, a supply chain senior, said. “It was difficult to navigate, but they’re happy with the kind of system we have.”

Families were able to start in the Field House, where they could get a health screening and explore the booths, then continue to Hofheinz Pavilion where they could pick up a backpack and a lunch before heading out.

Among the booths, UH was well represented and helped inform and excite kids about where their futures can take them. One booth that got a lot of attention was the College of Engineering booth, which featured Robo Shasta, a robotic cougar.

“We’ve been presenting the parents and kids with what engineering is,” volunteer and mechanical engineering junior Mark Admani said. “We’re letting them get a feel for what the program is so kids can get interested in that at an early age. It’s important because, if you start out wanting to do this, it will carry through.”

The ribbon cutting ceremony took place at 7:45 a.m. the day of the festival and Mayor Annise Parker, Chancellor Renu Khator, Robert Pease of Motiva Enterprises LLC and Fraizer Wilson of Shell Oil Company were in attendance.

“Today, we not only equipped students with the supplies they need for a positive start of the new school year and connected parents to essential year-round services, but we also introduced families to a Tier One institution and the possibility of a college education,” Parker said.

“Many of the families we met today have never stepped onto a college campus.  We want these young students and their parents to start thinking about college and to make a college degree their goal.”

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