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Poverty & Equity Thought Leadership

Creating Healthy Habits and Building Community Resilience

With the 2021 school year around the corner, it is vital that families in the Greater Atlanta area have essential resources available to them so that they can return to school as safely and healthy as possible. Thanks to Families First’s partnership with Starbucks, Target, and Kroger for the Back-to-School Bash on July 24, many of our families will be provided many of those essential resources such as school supplies, groceries, and COVID-19 vaccinations. 

This community celebration is focused on building community resilience, promoting family health and education resources, and food accessibility for all families in the Atlanta community and will highlight a variety of Families First’s nonprofit partners including: Raising Expectations, Moving in the Spirit, Partners in Change, Career RISE and TechBridge. 

Creating healthy habits is one of the pillars of building resilience in youth and families and The Junior League of Atlanta, Inc.’s (JLA), Kids in the Kitchen (KITK) and Atlanta Youth Rugby will bring healthy experiences to the Back-to-School Bash attendees. In addition, in partnership with Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE), Families First is providing free COVID-19 vaccines for event attendees.

KITK, one of the JLA’s signature programs, encourages healthy lifestyle choices among youth to help fight childhood obesity and associated adverse health outcomes. Traditionally, KITK conducts in-person instructional and interactive cooking activities to teach children about healthy eating. During COVID, the KITK committee addressed the challenge of in-person activities restriction due to the pandemic through reimagining its programming with new and creative approaches to reach children in the new normal.   

Kimberly Houston-Bryant, KITK chair, said, “The goal is to expose children to different cooking techniques, methods and use of tools, to create an overall comfortability navigating the kitchen.” The cooking activities needed to be fun while teaching children and parents safety tips in the kitchen, such as proper use of safety scissors or gloves. A chef by training, Ms. Houston-Bryant, or Chef Kim, also wanted to teach kids the joy in cooking and understanding its value. To achieve this goal, the committee created a hybrid model that utilized a virtual platform to conduct online demonstrations and distribute cooking kits to participants. This approach allowed for real-time interaction from safe distances and the hands-on learning children enjoy. At the Back-to-School Bash KITK will share with kids a cool treat and recipe to help them stay cool during the hot Atlanta summer days. 

Families will also get a chance to learn about rugby from Atlanta Youth Rugby, which aims to build community through sport and is involved in Atlanta and the surrounding communities in a variety of ways. Rugby – unlike soccer, football, or almost every other team sport, requires constant reliance on your teammates (and constant movement) to succeed. Rugby is the fastest growing sport in the US and one of the fastest growing scholarship sports. Key nonprofit partners of AYR include The Ascent Project, WINGS for Kids, CAMP Best Friends, Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCA, and Atlanta Public Schools. Through community partners AYR provides Atlanta’s youth in under resourced communities with access to qualified and trained coaches with the resources to engage and excel in rugby. This provides a holistic approach to health solutions to develop overall positive youth outcomes including both physical and mental wellness. Serving over 3,000 kids annually, over 45% of AYR’s rugby players identify as female, more than 85% of the athletes identify from racial or ethnic minority groups, and 80% of their ruggers come from neighborhoods with low household income. 

The hand-on clinic at the Back-to-School Bash will bring to life AYR’s goal to build character and athleticism through rugby while fostering sportsmanship and community in a fun, safe, and inclusive environment. The hands-on clinic will include fun and engaging ways for kids and families to experience AYR and rugby. 

We look forward to joining with Starbucks Kroger and Target on July 24 from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm, at our Westside headquarters at 80 Joseph E. Lowery Blvd. for what will be an amazing event for our community.  FREE backpacks, groceries and other essentials will be distributed to get our families ready to thrive this school year.


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