Niños Seguros is a fun dress rehearsal for school
By Jeannette Cruz
GCU News Bureau
Thousands of children and their families filled Antelope Gym on Saturday morning for a one-day, community-wide fair at Grand Canyon University focusing on child safety, health and education – just in time for back-to-school.
The 13th annual Canyon Cares Niños Seguros Back to School & Safety Fair celebrated the new back-to-school season by offering nearly 5,000 backpacks, filled with school supplies, as well as dental screenings and immunizations.
“This is an amazing community event and the only one of its kind in the Canyon Corridor,” said Faith Weese, Chief University Relations Officer. “It’s an exciting day every year when all our community leaders, businesses, schools and organizations come together to lift up our youth by launching one of the largest youth- and school-centered events of the year.”
As students walked in the door with their friends and families, their eyes lit up and their faces radiated joy as they picked up all the school supplies and candy they could carry.
“Now that’s priceless!” Weese said.
The event also helped lift the heavy financial burden that back-to-school shopping creates for local families.
Reyna Sevilla attended the event a second time – this time with her sister, who recently had moved from California. She said the event helped their families get the supplies they needed for school, and she enjoyed the entertainment, too.
Through song and stories Fireman Bill (Bill Scott) and DJ Stixx brought the entire room full of children to sing, dance and clap along.
Scott, who was in the Phoenix Fire Department for 30 years, teaches fire and water safety through music. It has been his passion since he picked up his guitar 10 years ago to sing a song to his grandchild about not playing with matches.
Saturday morning, he helped children remember how and when to respond to an emergency with lighthearted questions, such as:
“Would I call 9-1-1 if I want a bowl of menudo?” and “How do you say 9-1-1 in Spanish?”
And with lyrics: “Well, I know my numbers from one to 103, but 9-1-1 is the most important to me. … I was walking down the street one day (minding my own business) there was a house with black smoke pumping away …”
Joseph Bennet was having a blast singing along, dancing and cheering on his children, who were onstage.
“I love this!” he said.
His wife, Lauren, also was enjoying the show. She said the back-to-school fair really helped her family.
“This year we’ve been struggling. This is a blessing for us,” she said.
Lina Flores was there representing SRP. The booth promoted water safety in an effort to reduce the number of drownings in the Valley. Participants who came up to the booth could spin a wheel, answer a question and ultimately win a prize.
Kathy Shurba, a representative from Native Health, provided free dental cleaning for children up to age 17 and distributed oral health goodie bags with toothpaste, toothbrush, floss and a two-minute timer. Additionally, women received free vitamins.
“Chronic tooth decay remains the number one childhood disease in our country. We want to change those numbers so that children don’t have to miss school,” she said.
Angela Williams and her children had a long way to go before college would be in the picture, but that didn’t stop them from looking into GCU.
“I’ve heard about all of its recent additions, so I saw my opportunity to visit the campus,” she said. “I’m impressed. I like it and my kids like it. I’m trying to get them ready for college even though they’re only in the fifth grade – it’s never too early, right?”
Contact Jeannette Cruz at [email protected] or (602) 639-6631.