BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Hundreds turned out for the Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination (BRAVE) program's back-to-school event which included an epic tug-of-war showdown.
On Sat., Aug. 12, the event, which was a collaborative effort of the Baton Rouge Police Department, East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office, and Office of East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore, presented a free day of fun to help youth of all ages prepare to return to school. The back-to-school extravaganza was held at the Family and Youth Service Center (FYSC) on Government St.
Organizers say the focus of the festival was to inform students and their parents about available community resources that can help them achieve success in school and at home.
Festival offerings focused on physical activities, games and crafts including tug-of-war matches between BRPD against the EBRSO.
BRPD won the match and advanced to face off against Moore's office. Moore's office won that battle and now have the bragging rights.
Organizers say activities like these use skills from the classroom to engage and educate students.
Former LSU head coach Les Miles was also in attendance at the event. In fact, his bouncy horse racer won 1st place against D.A. Hillar Moore's.
To encourage participation, free backpacks filled with school supplies were given to the first 500 attendees who pre-registered online and completed all activity stations at the event.
State Representative Patricia Smith, who has participated in the event for the last three years, had to deliver backpacks later year due to the August 2016 flood. She said in order for kids to be successful in school, it is important they have these supplies ready for the first day of school.
"This is great because when kids go to school really, really need to have all the tools necessary for them to be able to learn on the very first day," Smith said. "Learning really starts on the first day of school."
She also said a major challenge students face heading back to school is that they aren't reading enough during the summer break. "We really need to have parents understand that over the summer, your children need to be reading books," Smith says, "Even if they only read one book, it is important to have reading to be the first thing they do over the summer."
The extravaganza offered free door prizes, snacks, entertainment, community agency information and resources for all community members to enjoy.
The BRAVE CommUNITY Back-to-School Extravaganza presents a perfect opportunity for students and their families to have fun preparing for the new school year, organizers say.
Among the local law enforcement agencies present, stations were divided to target younger and older students with different activities.
Organizers say BRAVE seeks to discourage youth violence and encourage positive lifestyles by increasing awareness of free resources available to East Baton Rouge Parish residents.