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When a backpack is more than a backpack

 

It’s that magical time of year that parents long for and children dread. That’s right; it’s back to school time! For most kids, this is a fairly swift transition back into the rhythm of the lifelong educational process. Gone are the days of swimming and bike riding, and its back to the grind of reading, writing, and that other subject. For most children, smooth sailing is attained after the first day; however, for some children in Central Florida this is not the case.

 

Central Florida is home to an enormous urban homeless population that includes a great number of children struggling to make it through school without feeling shamed for something outside of their control. It ends up affecting a child’s ability to focus in class, and can provide an unstable, at best, environment to study and do homework out of class. The Orange County Public Schools does a great deal to assist the homeless and lower income students in their schools.

 

In collaboration with Give a Kid a Backpack and the Clean the World Foundation, Florida Child Neurology was able to lighten these burdens for students at a local elementary school. We received 175 backpacks, hygiene kits, notebooks, pencils, and other school supplies to put together bags of hope for children in our community struggling to see their needs met.

 

Fern Creek Elementary School is practically within walking distance of our office. The school is currently home to 329 students with an ethnic make up of 41% African American, 27% Caucasian, and 20% Hispanic.

 

Transportation is provided to nearly 200 of their students from the nearby Parramore district. 20% - 25% of their students are considered homeless, and more than 90% of the school receives free or discounted lunches.

 

Fern Creek has successfully been listed as “A” school for six of the nine years in spite of their circumstances. They have their own privately paid Community and Mentor Coordinator, several areas of education focusing on reading and the arts, and provide more than 10,000 weekend snack packs to students each year.

 

It was a great honor for our own Dr. Murtuza Kothawala to visit with Fern Creek Elementary, on Friday August 15th to deliver the stuffed backpacks. Dr. Kothawala was able to spend time with the administrators and understand the needs of the students. He was able to hear some amazing things Fern Creek is doing for its students and the community.

 

We are looking forward to working with them in their efforts to provide elite quality education to the children regardless of the child’s socio-economic status.

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