By Catharin Shepard • Staff writer • A school supplies giveaway, bouncy houses and information on applying for college financial aid will be just a few of the offerings at the first Hoke County Parks and Recreation back-to-school event, set for August.
The event will have something for school youth of all ages, from elementary to high school, Parks and Recreation Director Dr. Sad’a Rascoe said.
“This will be our first back to school event that Hoke County Parks and Recreation has actually sponsored. I’m excited about that,” she said.
The expected date for the back-to-school celebration is August 20 with a rain date of August 27. The event will be from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at the county sports complex on Red Springs Road.
Right now the planners are in the middle of organizing the event, seeking vendors to participate and organizing items that will be given away to children.
“We deal with the kids all year long in sports and we’ve never done this type of event, so we want to be able to give back,” Rascoe said.
There will be plenty of fun activities like a photo booth, face painting and more for youth of all ages. For high school students looking to the future, the event will offer a chance to learn more about area schools. Organizers are working to bring in representatives from Sandhills Community College, Robeson County Community College and Fayetteville State University, among others, to meet with prospective students.
“We’re trying to get these vendors to come out and have stuff for the older kids, stuff like information about FAFSA, how to apply for college, summer programs that they have or fall programs that they have. Just to get information to the county,” Rascoe said.
The department is also working to bring in several people in the community who have businesses that cater to children on the autism spectrum to make sure they are included, the director said. One such connection would offer the kids a chance to play sports.
Additionally, a local barbershop, and a local hairdresser plan to each give away 10 free haircuts and hair stylings for youth to celebrate going back to school.
The department plans to use some of the proceeds from its annual three-on-three basketball tournament to help pay for the bookbags and other school supplies that the giveaway will offer for children. Parks and Recreation is also looking to have sororities and fraternities to donate bookbags for the cause.
Families who come out to the back-to-school event can expect to enjoy the day, Rascoe said.
“They can expect to have a good time and they can expect…everybody is on point. We want to give back to the community as far as book bags, notebooks and things of that nature. That’s what we’re trying to do,” she said. “We want everyone to understand that we are a department that’s on the upcoming and rise, and we’re reaching out in ways that we can and get everyone on the same page.”
Meanwhile, the department is also keeping an eye to the future. Hoke Parks and Recreation is preparing for the completion of the new James A. Leach Aquatics and Recreation Center, which will serve as the county’s new center for Parks and Recreation operations. The center is due to wrap up construction in November.
Once that building is open, Parks and Recreation plans to have a lot more going on, Rascoe said.
“There’s going to be lots of things that we’re going to be doing. There’s going to be a lot of increases in programs, there’s going to be a lot of increases in sports, tournaments that we’re going to hold,” she said. “We want to gear everyone up and get them ready for our new building, to transition from being here now and transitioning to the new building.”
Rascoe also praised the turnout and county support for the recent 5K Color Run, which proved so popular that the registration hit max capacity.
“Our color run was very successful, I was very, very proud about that. We had an amazing turnout, and to just be there among the children – we had a senior citizen come and she was even walking around the track with her cane, and that for me was one of the most monumental things for me to see, because there were a lot of people who didn’t even know what a color run was,” Rascoe said. “Some people had never participated in a color run, so to see families together, to see husbands and wives running together with their kids, pushing the stroller and running at the same time, I feel like it was a complete success.
“And that’s why I do it, that’s why me and my team get together and bring it to the county commissioners and the county manager. For us to have their support and to always have them be supportive of us is just absolutely amazing,” Rascoe said. “I’m just trying to do whatever I can to make sure that we are reaching out to the community, keeping everybody engaged.”
For more information on upcoming Parks and Recreation offerings or to learn more about the back-to-school event, visit https://www.hokecounty.net/161/Parks-Recreation or call (910) 875-4035.