Dozens of people attended last weekend’s Back 2 School Throwdown held at Columbus Park.
The eighth annual event, sponsored by state Rep. La Shawn Ford, featured vendors and local organizations who managed to find shade on the hot, sunny day as they sold food, snacks and toys to families, and shared information about health care and driving safety tips.
Children played with Benny the Bull, the Chicago Bulls Mascot, and enjoyed music and live performances from local church groups.
Terrence McGee, organizer of the Back 2 School Throwdown, said he and Ford put together the event to get the neighborhood children ready for school next month; CPS students return to the classroom Aug. 26.
McGee started the throwdown in 2005, and he and Rep. Ford have organized the event the past five years, McGee said
“Every year we look forward to finding ways to bring our community closer together,” McGee said. “Bringing health awareness, vendors out that help the community and also to get the kids excited to go back to school.”
During the event, 15th District Commander Barbara West, First Deputy Al Wysinger, and Officers Susan Fagan and Anne Zamzow from the 25th District received awards from Ford and Comcast for their service to the Austin community.
Carol Washington, enrollment coordinator for the Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy, said she and other representatives from the alternative school were invited to the event.
Washington said the school is trying to enroll a total of 300 students in its new schools opening in North and South Lawndale, so the event was an opportunity to reach out to certain groups of students.
“Those [we’re seeking] are students who have dropped out, are on the verge of separating due to life’s issues or brand new students who have just graduated 8th grade,” Washington said.
Each year, the throwdown has a message, and this year’s message was “don’t drink and drive,” McGee said.
Jasher Racquemore, a parent and Austin resident, attended the July 13 event with his two toddlers ages 2 and 5. Racquemore said having these kinds of events is good for the neighborhood.
“[It] keeps out the kids out of trouble [and] keeps kids having fun,” Racquemore said.