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Johnson Park Center hosts back to school party for local children

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

Back to School Party

 UTICA, N.Y.-- Hundreds of local children were soaking in their last moments of summer during the Back to School and Say No to Drugs Party at Johnson Park, Wednesday night.

Students of all ages played with pogo sticks, rode bicycles and participated in educational activities. Students were given a free bag of school supplies including notebooks, folders, pencils, markers, crayons, glue and erasers.

"As a community we're all standing together for our children for literacy, learning and school success," said Rev. Maria Scates, founder of the center. "We want our children to be able to know that there are a lot of people that care about them."

Children involved in the JPC Youth Voice Initiative helped to assemble and pass out the free school supplies.

"It feels good when you hand it to them," said 13-year-old Christian Castro. "Because they have a smile on their face and they're happy that they have something."

Other children said the school supplies make them feel more prepared and confident going into the new school year.

"It makes me feel like I can actually accomplish something," said 11-year-old Donovan Rhem, of Utica.

Throughout the event children shared the reasons that they choose to stay drug free. Educational information on drug abuse and prevention were also available during the event.

Several Utica Police officers were at the event cooking hamburgers and hot dogs for everyone. The food was donated by the Compassion Coalition on Lafayette Street, in Utica.

If you would like to have more information please contact:
Ms. Copfer at (315) 941-0820 or JPC Office at (315) 734-9608 or e-mail at

Thank you so much for your continual support & join Positive Change at the Johnson Park Center (JPC)!

Also, a big thank you to WKTV for the coverage and writing this story about our Back To School and Say No To Drugs Party!

For more photos of the event, check out our Facebook page!