The Trayvon Martin Foundation 5th annual Back-to-School event

Hanan's Academic Development Center and Community Builders in collaboration with the Trayvon Martin Foundation and the Opa-Locka Community Development Corporation hosted the 5th annual Back-to-School Extravaganza.

Shirley Pierre, editor-in-chief, staff writer, videographer

On a day filled with back-to-school events in South Florida, the Trayvon Martin Foundation (TMF) and Hanan’s Academic Development Center (HADC) hosted their fifth annual Back-to-School Extravaganza in Miami. The Aug. 8 event provided free backpacks and school supplies to the first 400 qualified student attendees from grades K-12.

The event recognizes Trayvon Martin, who was 17 when shot and killed by George Zimmerman while walking home from a store in Sanford.

“We want to encourage our young people,” said Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon and one of the founders of TMF, “and make sure they stay in school. Not just attending school, but making sure they’re getting something out of it that will benefit them later in life, that will make them more competitive in the field that they choose.”

The event’s purpose was to aid school children by providing resources to help them kick off the new school year. Organizations such as the Miami Dade State Attorney’s Office, the Black Male College Explorers from Florida Memorial University, and the Opa-locka Community Development Corporation provided information to help the community.

Families arrived from throughout South Florida. Some danced to music provided by 103.5 The Beat radio station. Children enjoyed food and were entertained by bounce houses and a rock-climbing wall. Parents spoke in terms of gratitude.  Speeches about the importance of education and being leaders were provided by Ms. Fulton and other members of the foundation, including Trayvon’s father Tracey Martin.

The Trayvon Martin Foundation was started in 2012 with assistance from the Miami Foundation, in response to the controversy regarding his death. Its purpose is to create awareness of how violent crime impacts the families of the victims, and to provide support and advocacy for those families. According to its website, the organization provides educational opportunities for inner-city youth, and violence prevention projects worldwide.

Hanan’s Academic Development Center, a school that started in 2006 and now serves grades K-5, partners with TMF, exchanging ideas and creating events. Both their founders say they have the same goals: to help children and the community. “We all have the passion and we love children,” said Hanan Ali, HADC founder, director, and principal.

Anyone can volunteer, send a donation or otherwise help by going to TrayvonMartinfoundation.org, or calling 786-504-4235.