The 2021 Children’s Trust Family Expo series concluded last month with a special drive-thru event at the recently opened Jackson West Medical Center in Doral. More than 200 cars participated in the drive-thru taking home backpacks, headphones, other goodies as well as information on resources available to children and families in Miami-Dade County.
The drive-thru event was an appropriate culmination of the Family Expo series that sought to reach out to those The Children’s Trust serves in a year still dominated by coronavirus pandemic concerns and limitations. The still ongoing pandemic took so much from all of us that finding its silver lining has been a challenge for everyone. And yet, having the world turned upside gave The Trust a chance to rethink some of the things it has always done, even positive ones. The Children’s Trust Family Expo falls into that category as the once-yearly event was canceled in 2020 and had to be rethought before returning this year.
Instead of one large event, The Trust decided to host four separate events taking all the resources, activities and fun of past events closer to the community it serves. The Family Expos were held in the south, north, central and west. The smaller events fit nicely with the cautious approach to large gatherings and mostly featured providers who are located in those respective areas as well as others who serve the county as a whole.
Each event had its own unique personality
Starting at the Sweet Home Community Campus, the Family Expo held down south kicked things off with a huge tent that housed everything from a stage with performances, balloon artists, arts and crafts spaces, characters and exhibitors giving away literature, information and goodies.
Next up came the Miami Gardens event in the north part of the county hosted in partnership with radio personality Papa Keith’s PK People Matter event at the Betty T Ferguson Recreational Complex. This event had a picnic feel with families relaxing together on blankets in the grass and under shade. There were also over 1,200 meals provided for free in a Food Truck roundup courtesy of the Miami Dolphins.
The central Family Expo held in conjunction with HistoryMiami brought out the most family and children with over 1,500 attending. In the large courtyard of the Miami-Dade Cultural Complex attendees played children’s games, listened to live performances and had the chance to walk through HistoryMiami for free as part of its monthly Family Fun Day.
Finally, at the west event at Jackson West Medical Center, 206 cars with close to 400 children in tow slowly drove past 39 exhibitors as they got an up-close look at the state-of-the-art medical center just off the Palmetto Highway.
Smaller events, bigger impact
Overall, the results were impressive. Over 1,000 people participated in each of the first three events and the last event provided an easy and safe way for children and families to pick up even more information and goodies without even leaving the comfort of their car.
Here are some other impressive numbers from the four Family Expo events;
· 189 total exhibitors participated in the Family Expo, with everyone from Miami Dade County Public Schools, government, child care, after-school programming, health & wellness, family services, arts/sports, STEM, special populations and more.
· 1,665 backpacks and 1,320 headsets were given away for children.
· 119 people signed up for The Children’s Trust Book Club, which sends a free book every month in the mail to children from 0-5 years old in Miami-Dade.
· 1,253 free meals were distributed.
· Over 200 vaccines and 60 COVID tests were administered to children.