Help for families in the new school year

Story by John Iwasaki

The start of a new school year may be an exciting time for kids, but it also can be stressful for parents.

Isaiah Thomas of the Boston Celtics signs the T-shirt of a boy attending the NBA player's back-to-school backpack giveaway. (Photo by Chris Huber)

"We're a low-income family," says Frelimo Amili, who brought his four children to a back-to-school backpack distribution in Tacoma, Washington, organized by World Vision and sponsored by Isaiah Thomas of the Boston Celtics.

The backpacks filled with school supplies helps "save money and makes sure they have everything they need for school," Amili says. "When you have four kids, everything adds up."

Thomas, who grew up in Tacoma, says World Vision is "always willing to help the less fortunate...They are a great organization to partner with."

Without the distribution, "it would be a lot harder" to provide for her family's needs, says Pavielle Osborne, another parent of four children. "Everything is times four. This helps out immensely."

World Vision held several more back-to-school backpack distributions in other communities, some of them tied to partnerships with other NBA players.

Mia laid out the colorful Yoobi school supplies on her desk. (Photo by Chris Huber)


In another education-related effort, World Vision's Teacher Resource Centers are continuing a partnership with Yoobi to distribute free school supplies to educators in low-income areas.

"I was so excited to get the Yoobi [packs of supplies]," says Josue, a second-grader, as he dug into a pencil bag stuffed with colorful markers, pencils, and other items.

World Vision also awards classroom project grants to help teachers in low-income communities provide enrichment and other activities that their schools might not otherwise afford. The grants are provided through the support given by Child Champions — donors who want to help World Vision's work in the U.S.

Meagan Fleming, a teacher at Parkside Elementary School in Des Moines, Washington, received a grant to bring a traveling neuroscience exhibit from Seattle's Pacific Science Center to her school.

Taylor runs his fingers through a maze, part of a traveling exhibit on how the brain works. (Photo by John Iwasaki)

"We wanted to bring a science exhibit to our kids because our kids cannot afford to pay field trip costs out of pocket," Fleming says.

The hands-on exhibit uses a series of activities to focus on understanding the brain and its anatomy, functions, memory, and expressions. Students also learned how different drugs affect the brain and its activity.

Fleming says the experience helps teach students how "to take care of themselves and others in making good life choices for their short- and long-term lives." Without the World Vision grant, she adds, "there's no way they'd get these activities."

After trying a mind-stretching activity involving a maze, Evelyn, 9, concurs.

"It's really fun," she says. "We don't get to do this a lot."