, Port Arthur, Texas

August 6, 2011

Families learn fun ways to stay healthy, safe at Central Mall’s Back-to-School Fair

Reesha Brown
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — There was something for everyone during Saturday’s Back-to-School Kids’ Safety Fair at Port Arthur’s Central Mall. Sure parents were informed about how to keep children healthy and out of harm’s way this school year, but there were fun activities for kids to do too.

“We did the bean-bag toss,” Daylan Heard, an outspoken third grader from West Orange Stark Elementary, said. “I learned that when you need help and have emergencies you call 9-1-1.”

And what better place to have the fair? Some families shopped, others went to the fair, and some did a little of both.

“I’m really impressed with the fair,” Port Arthur’s Cheryl Fitzpatrick said. “My son is 30 and when he was in school, I don’t remember all this promoting safety and health stuff in the past. It’s really needed nowadays because it’s so dangerous.”

Fitzpatrick stopped by the Federal Credit Union of Port Arthur’s station after shopping for school shoes so her grandson, Jacob Black, 5, could color on a take-home poster.

The Credit Union was only one out of about 15 vendors that set up shop at the 13th  annual event. Jodi Galloway, Central Mall’s spokesperson, said this is a record number.

“The mall loves doing community events like this because we are a community mall,” she said. “Any time we can give back to the community by hosting these events we do it.”

Other organizations in attendance included The Medical Center of Southeast Texas, The YMCA of Port Arthur, Acadian Ambulance, Armentor’s United Martial Arts Studio, Inside Out Twirling Studio, Entergy Texas and others.

The Medical Center of Southeast Texas demonstrated the importance of cleanliness with a hand washing machine. The machine revealed the multitude of germs that can pile up on the hands and the amount of time one should clean off those germs. According to Denise Castille, with The Medical Center of Southeast Texas, one must finish singing happy birthday to know that their hands are squeaky clean.

If you came across a model emergency car in the mall, that was probably because Acadian was demonstrating how to react when someone sees the actual-sized car speeding by, said Ramona Hanks with Acadian.

The fair also gave young talents an opportunity to strut their stuff and show the town what they can do.

Dressed in glitter tops and black shorts or tights, the Inside Out Twirlers of Port Neches razzle dazzled participants with their dance moves smack dab in the epicenter of the event. The show was definitely a crowd pleaser as crowds cheered during each toss of the baton.

In fact, that’s what brought Linda and Bruce Fournier of Nederland to the fair.

“It’s a good way to educate kids,” Bruce said. “Just watching how the kids are responding, it’s a good event to have,” Linda added.