Business community offering free back-to-school supplies in Canton

Crowds of parents and teachers are expected to flock to Canton for a Back-to-School Rally and Health Fair that will be hosted by the North Madison County
Excel by 5 Coalition on Aug. 1.

The annual event, which will take place at St. Paul AME Zion Church, is designed to raise awareness about the important roles that parents and early childhood
educators play in the lives of children during their formative years.

“We’re trying to do anything and everything we can to raise awareness,” said Jan Collins, executive director of the Madison County Business League &

Her organization, along with the Madison County Economic Development Authority and United Way of the Jackson Area, serves as Co-Lead for the event.

Dr. Pollia Griffin is the face of the rally. Once assistant superintendent for Madison County Schools, Griffin remains the chair for the county’s Education
Focus Group. She, along with a team of supporters, strive to make the event an annual success.

“This is a way to direct their attention to what’s going on in their community,” she said. “It’s all about pooling resources and bringing people together.
We do all that we can to direct these resources to them to help form a good foundation for children from birth to five.”

The coalition will give free book bags and school supplies to preschoolers and kindergarteners to encourage success beginning on their very first day of

To make sure parents are involved, all complimentary items come with the stipulation that parents must be present in order to receive them.

The Madison County Library System, Canton Public Schools, Eagle’s Nest Learning Center, and Families First are just a few of the many community service
booths that will offer education tips to interested parents at the Back-to-School Rally.

“There is also a healthcare portion to this event which is very important,” Collins said, noting that nutrition often plays a large role in a child’s ability
to learn.

Exhibitors at the Health Fair will include Professional Eyecare Associates, Mississippi Department of Health First Steps Early Intervention, Central Mississippi
Outreach Dental Service, MSU Extension Services, and others.

Collins hopes that the event will also help parents gain a better understanding of potential learning disabilities.

“In the public schools, a lot of times unless the parents force the issue, these children are not tested for disabilities until they are in the second
or third grade,” she said. “By the time they are tested, many have already been left behind.”

On Aug. 1, the rally will emphasize the importance of reading with a storytelling session.

“We are trying to make the link between storytelling and literacy,” said Griffin.

“We have a young lady who is coming in, and she is going to do storytelling with the children to try to make parents aware of little things such as the
inflections in your voice and how those tie back to literacy.”

By: Jamie Logan, Madison County Journal

This article was originally published in the July 23, 2015 edition of the Madison County Journal.