School starts for many of the young people throughout the Madison Metropolitan School District on Tuesday, Sept. 3. But on the day before – Monday, Sept. 2 – the 11th Annual Back 2 Skool Bash will make sure that young people are completely ready for that first day as they once again will be providing backpacks full of school supplies and haircuts, along with a variety of fun activities.
“This event was created in response to things I had identified as far as marginalized kids going back to school prepared and ready for success,” Jacqueline Hunt, organizer of the event, tells Madison365. “I wanted to make sure that kids were going back to school with all of their backpacks filled with everything that they need – all of those extra little things that didn’t come when you went to the regular back-to-school events.
“I wanted to take it another step further for those individuals who have experienced hardship,” she adds.
The Annual Back 2 Skool Bash was first created to make sure that all kids go back to school feeling and looking their absolute best and prepared for success. Hunt says that she had a vision of her own child etched in her memory getting to school and not having everything that was required.
“I was doing OK and I could have provided everything they asked for, it’s just that I didn’t check the school list to see she needed those extra things,” she says. “The teacher was asking the students to bring this and that out, and she didn’t have it. With that in mind, I created the event to address that.”
It’s important to not only go back to school with all of the supplies that you need, but to also be looking good. At this year’s Back 2 Skool Bash, there will be hairstylists on hand for the girls, and barbers for the boys,
“This is the third year where Vernee Nycole House of Beauty will be opening up her shop to provide hairstyles for girls and cuts for boys who are going back to school,” Hunt says. “Last year, we did over 160 kids. It’s important for our young people showing up for the first day of school looking their absolute best.”
Back 2 Skool Bash is being hosted by The Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership Development, who work to transform the face of leadership in Madison, with an emphasis on empowering the African American family. It is also being hosted by F.O.S.T.E.R. (Families Overcoming Struggles To Encourage Restoration), whose mission is to support low-income families of color to get to a place of self-sufficiency through mental health awareness, education, training, and stable affordable housing.
“Nehemiah has many amazing volunteers who were eager to serve and they have been providing those backpacks,” says Hunt, who was hired by Nehemiah a few years ago to do outreach work in the Meadowood Community.
There will be lots of other fun activities at Back 2 Skool Bash along with informational and empowerment sessions for parents and delicious food.
“Brandi Grayson is going to do an Urban Triage session; Angie Crawford Hicks is going to be doing tips for back to school,” Hunt says. “Sheray Wallace will be doing blood pressure screenings and passing on immunization information. Carla Gaines of Quartz will be passing out information, too. We have so many great community partners.”
There will be mascots and Disney characters for the kids.
“The Boys and Girls Club will be bringing out the bouncy house. We’ll have double dutch and a 3-on-3 basketball tournament put on by Fuel or Crutch,” Hunt says. “We’ll have a large flag football game. One City will bring Anji Play out. Like I said, it’s so many great partners that make this event what it is.”
Volunteers are still needed for this event that serves over 200 kids and families every year. Hunt is already looking forward to the inspirational event.
“My favorite part of this event is watching the babies walk away looking good and feeling good about being ready for school and being excited about going to school the next day,” she says. “That’s just really special to me. I love to see this community come together to do this for our babies.
“The momentum for this event is really growing and I’m really excited about it,” she adds. “So many efforts are being made by so many partners to make this day a success.”
If you can volunteer, have services you would like to offer, or wish to make a donation to the 11th Annual Back 2 Skool Bash, please contact Jackie Hunt at (608) 284-8716.