A crowd of children runs across a crowded auditorium, each taking jabs at another with a sword, while their parents stand by, carefully watching. This scene, however, is not one of violence, but one of pure joy and excitement.
The balloon swords were just a part of the festivities at Friday’s 3rd Annual Family Fun Fest, hosted by the Thelma Gibson Health Initiative (TGHI), at Virrick Park. The event celebrated the end of TGHI’s one-year Youth Prevention Intervention Program, which teaches them the importance of non-violence and safety, as well as personal empowerment.
“The key for us is to connect with kids,” said Patricia Taboas, TGHI’s youth program manager. “This event is about safety, but it’s also about having fun. If we meet with them eye to eye like this, we can reach out to them, and hopefully their parents.”
Hip hop artist Black Bobby and DJ D-Up performed for the children, while Irini Patterson made them balloon animals, hats and swords. Games and activities were set up around booths promoting community outreach programs like Shake-A-Leg Miami. The event ended with a performance by members of the youth program. Yet, the message of safety prevailed.
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