Aurora Resource Fair offers families information on summer activities in the city – Chicago Tribune

A large crowd turned out at the Prisco Community Center for what Aurora town officials called “a party with a purpose.”

Families turned out in droves Thursday night as the city held its Aurora Youth and Family Resource Fair, a two-hour party that kicked off at 6 p.m.

The popular fair which usually attracts around 400 people was back with music, food, raffle prizes and more than 40 community clubs and service providers who stood ready to offer information on educational and recreational summer activities. local for young people.

Aurora’s director of communications and equity, Clayton Muhammad, said an in-person resource fair was held last fall during the school year and holding a follow-up in-person event in the spring had even more impact.

“I think from a post-COVID perspective we’re seeing an increase in summer activities and so it allows parents to meet these reps in person and that’s the novelty here,” he said. “For a number of summers we haven’t had these robust in-person summer activities and they’re coming back and all of these program officers are here in one place, one time. We didn’t want to miss the opportunity to make these life-changing connections for children.

One organization likely to generate a lot of interest was the Fox Valley Park District.

Fox Valley Park District Executive Director Jim Pilmer spoke ahead of the fair and said it has always been important to educate the community about the district and its programs.

“Anytime we can showcase the many things to do in this community for people – there could be after-school programs or other service entities. There is no shortage of opportunities for young people in our community to participate, whether either a sports league or a camp, a theater troupe and many others,” Pilmer said. “The part of the Fox Valley Park District is that we cover 65 square miles and so there’s enough programming for everyone The programs are there, but what we constantly have to do is bring them into the neighborhoods and into the areas where young people live.

Pilmer added that transportation remains an issue in getting people to these programs “that’s why we partner with many other organizations to get people there.”

Shannon Cameron, executive director of the Aurora Area Interfaith Food Pantry, said representatives from the food pantry wanted to be on site Thursday night to address ongoing food insecurity issues in the area.

“It’s always great to get volunteers for something like this, but we really try to spread the word about our services,” Cameron said. “We know families have been really affected by what is happening and we want to be a resource for those who may not have used the pantry before but need it now. Not everyone knows we exist, but we are here and we can help alleviate some of the harsh realities of inflation right now.

Representatives from the Northern Illinois Food Bank were also in attendance and, according to Katie Scott of Naperville, child nutrition program specialist, this was their first time at the fair.

“We are currently promoting our Meals on the Move summer lunch program for kids 18 and under,” Scott said. “We offer seven days of lunch and serve it Monday through Friday at four different parks, so we visit each park every day. On Fridays we also offer weekend lunches. We are delighted to be here and promote our program.

Service providers, including the Northern Illinois Food Bank, as well as visitors, spoke highly of the in-person format of the Thursday evening event.

Aurora’s Jenna Hogg said she was looking for “anything for the kids – day camps, any kind of basketball, sports or dance, that’s what my kids like,” a- she declared. “I like the format here – everything is there and I hope to come away with everything I need. It really is a one stop shop. »

Aron Corral, also from Aurora, said he was looking for summer activities for his kids “especially summer camp – we’re always looking for something.”

“We have a 5-year-old and a 12-year-old and we try to keep them busy over the summer,” Corral said. “I think it’s a great idea. It’s so easy to know your options with everything under one roof.

David Sharos is a freelance journalist for The Beacon-News.

Sally J. Minick