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Press Releases: 2014

First Choice Community Center Makes Going Back to School Easy and Fun

More than 3,000 expected at fifth annual event offering health screenings, school supplies, backpack

The First Choice Community Center’s fifth annual Jump-Start Back-to-School event, featuring free back-to-school information, health screenings, children’s activities and backpacks with school supplies, while quantities last, will be held 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 26. To preregister or learn more, call 1.888.676.9588. Select Health of South Carolina is the state’s oldest and largest Medicaid managed care organization and is part of AmeriHealth Caritas Family of Companies.

“Jump-Start Back-to-School becomes more popular with children and families each year, and we’re so excited to help them stay healthy and get the school supplies they need,” said Lillian Suarez, director of community education for Select Health. “This event also connects the public with community resources and stresses the importance of preventive health care.”

More than 2,275 people attended the 2013 event, and 3,000 are expected this year. Children will be entertained with a variety of fun activities, giving parents an opportunity to talk with medical professionals and community resource providers. Select Health’s bilingual staff will assist Spanish-speaking families, and interpretation services will be available for attendees with limited English proficiency. The First Choice Community Center, located in the Widewater Square Shopping Center at 3315 Broad River Road, offers information about First Choice benefits and services available to Midlands area families.

“It’s very important to start the school year in good health, which has been proven to help children perform at their best,” said Dr. Greg Barabell, pediatrician and network medical director at Select Health. “School-aged children up to age 21 need yearly well visits with a primary care physician, and our staff can help First Choice members schedule these appointments with their doctors. Those participating in school athletic programs need sports physicals, and we can help with that, too.”

Jump-Start Back-to-School community partners include Allen University, Better Choices, Better Health®, Bi-Lo, Celebrity Status Barber Shop, Cervical Cancer Free, Chuck E Cheese, City of Columbia Parks and Recreation, City of Columbia Fire Department, Columbia College, Driver’s Choice, Eau Claire Cooperative Health Center, EdVenture Children’s Museum, First Choice VIP Care, GLEAMS St. Andrews, Harvest Hope Food Bank, Home Builders Institute, It’s Fashion, Kid's First Dental, Learning Adventures, Inc., Little Ceasers Pizza, Lizard’s Thicket, Midlands Technical College, Operation Love, Palmetto Healthy Start, Palmetto Poison Control, Richland County First Steps, PASOs of Richland and Lexington counties, Project Fit, Rent-A-Center, Richland County Public Library, Richland County School District One Adult Education, Richland County School District Two Student Social Services, Richland County Sheriff’s Kid’s ID Program, Salvation Army, SafeLink Wireless, Sonic Drive-Thru, SC Thrive, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, South Carolina Farmer’s Market, Trendz, Virginia College, Walgreens, South Carolina Witness Project, WIC, Widewater Square, Woodforest National Bank and WP Rawl Foods. Musical entertainment will be provided by Word of God Church & Ministries.

An assortment of mascots will make appearances at the event  including “Cocky” from the University of South Carolina, “Cherry Limeade” from Sonic Drive Thru, “9 Foot Deputy” from the Richland County Sheriff's department, “Chuck E. Cheese” from Chuck E. Cheese’s, “Tori” from Learning Adventures, Inc. and “Kangarudy” from First Choice.

“We’ve partnered with more than 45 community organizations to offer a wide range of support services,” added Suarez. “Each partner shares the common goal of improving the overall health of our community.”

The First Choice Community Center opened in 2009 as a place for individuals and families with limited incomes to learn about programs, services and resources available to assist them. For more information about the First Choice Community Center or the Jump-Start Back-to-School event, call 1.888.676.9588.