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Spring Fling presents critical resources to families in need

Children+navigate+through+cone+courses++in+the+Champaign-Urbana+Mass+Transit+Department+Bike+Rodeo.+The+event+was+part+of+the+Spring+Fling+event+hosted+by+CommUnity+Matters+on+Monday.
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Spring Fling presents critical resources to families in need

Children navigate through cone courses  in the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit Department Bike Rodeo. The event was part of the Spring Fling event hosted by CommUnity Matters on Monday.

Children navigate through cone courses in the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit Department Bike Rodeo. The event was part of the Spring Fling event hosted by CommUnity Matters on Monday.

Children navigate through cone courses in the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit Department Bike Rodeo. The event was part of the Spring Fling event hosted by CommUnity Matters on Monday.

Children navigate through cone courses in the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit Department Bike Rodeo. The event was part of the Spring Fling event hosted by CommUnity Matters on Monday.

By Ethan Simmon, Staff writer

Champaign organization CommUnity Matters hosted its “Spring Fling” event at Garden Hills Academy this Monday, bringing local resources to families in the form of a neighborhood carnival.

The resource fair component took place inside Garden Hills, with wellness, safety and summer camp organizations set up at tables in the school gym space. Children and families kept occupied with raffle drawings, balloon animals, and free food and drink.

Outside the building, kids rode around in the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit Department Bike Rodeo, navigating through cone courses and playing with their classmates. The new Carle Mobile Health Clinic was stationed nearby for families to tour.

CommUnity Matters is a partnership between Champaign Unit 4 Schools, the City of Champaign, the Champaign Park District, Don Moyer Boys and Girls Club, Life Line, Inc. and the Driven to Reach Academic Achievement for Males House, or DREAAM House.

CommUnity Matters began in 2007 as a long-term solution to draw youth away from crime in the Garden Hills area, said Jennifer Carlson, Neighborhood Programs Manager for the City of Champaign. The organization added Life Line, Inc. in 2009 and DREAAM in 2017 and has expanded to the low-income Beardsley, Bristol and Douglass Park areas.  

“Any youth from any low-income areas can participate (in CommUnity Matters) if space allows,” Carlson said.

Their annual Spring Fling has evolved over the years. It started as a way to spread the word about summer camps but has become an end-of-year celebration for students with more featured activities, Carlson said.

Resource presenters used different tools to bring in families and children to their booths. Crisis Nursery works with heavy topics of child abuse and neglect, so they gave students Dr. Seuss books to help families approach the resources they offer.

Healthy Beginnings serves new moms and their families in the C-U area and has a dedicated student-care classroom right in Garden Hills. They used their time at Spring Fling obtaining consent from families for their children to use the Carle Mobile Health Clinic during schooltime, said nursing supervisor Sarah Lundstrom.

The Carle Mobile Health Clinic, Girl Scouts of Central Illinois and Boy Scouts of America were the newest additions to the Spring Fling resource lineup. Courage Connection, Promise Healthcare, Champaign Public Library and the NAACP are a few of over 30 vendors that appeared at the event.

Aside from getting in touch with resources, families can use Spring Fling to connect with their community, said Janel Gomez, Community Development Specialist for the City of Champaign.

“In our field we hear so often that people just don’t know about things,” Gomez said. “One of the things we’re trying to do is just show people that there’s lots of places you can call, lots of places you can go to get the assistance you need.”

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