By Kelsey Ryan
JOPLIN, Mo. —
“I Am Joplin,” an opportunity for area students to reconnect with one another and educators before the beginning of the new school terms, is slated Wednesday night at Missouri Southern State University.
“We’d like to decrease any anxiety that the kids have by allowing them to see people they know and love, and to process the death of their friends collectively with the community,” said Jen Black, executive director at House of Hope, which is organizing the event. “Our motto for the event is ‘Come and celebrate a new beginning.’”
The gathering is scheduled from 6:30 to 10 p.m. at the MSSU stadium.
Students who attend will be grouped by elementary, middle and high school for recreational activities like paintball by number, face painting, disc golf, mural painting, relays, inflatable bounce houses, and 100-foot Slip ’n’ Slides.
Black said organizations will be available to discuss emotional health, recreational, educational and vocational rehabilitation resources.
A ceremony to honor students and others who died in the tornado is planned.
More than 30 organizations are helping with the event.
“I thought all the organizations would work well as the different pieces of the puzzle,” Black said. “It was a no-brainer to do this for our children before school.”
Romance on a Rocketship, a pop band, will perform, and food will be provided.
Transportation will be provided at 5:30 and 6 p.m. by the Joplin School District. Pickup locations are located at Food 4 Less, West Seventh Street Wal-Mart and the Webb City Wal-Mart.
Organizations participating in the event are: Missouri Southern State University, Joplin School District, the Alliance of Southwest Missouri, YMCA, Boys & Girls Club of Southwest Missouri, Big Sisters Big Brothers, state of Missouri, Rebuild Joplin, Joplin’s Independent Living Center, Con-way Truckload, Chick-Fil-A, Lamar Outdoor Advertising, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and others. Information: www.facebook.com/iamjoplinevent or www.signupgenius.com/go/iamjoplin/.