A couple of dozen kids enjoyed hula hoops, bubble makers and tug of war on the campus of King College Prep on Saturday afternoon, Aug. 21.
Nearby, a bounce house was being inflated and people were visiting booths managed by CityLight Church, where they could get book bags and health screenings.
They were gathered for the 13th annual Karl Jackson Back 2 School Jam (previously known as the Back 2 School Jam), cosponsored by the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO) and since 2011 by the Life Development Center of CityLight Church.
"This is an event where we support people in our community, over 300 people every year, with book bags and supplies and also activities, food, and music and performances," said Parrish Brown, a youth organizer with KOCO. "Just to, you know, get people started back with the school year correctly."
The Back 2 School Jam is held in memory of Karl Jackson, a community youth organizer who died of cancer when he was a teenager. Over $4,500 was raised for the event through its GoFundMe page.
Khalil Cotton is one of a dozen or so KOCO youth leaders who helped plan and organize the Saturday event at King, 4445 S. Drexel Boulevard. He is a rising senior at Dyett High School, 555 E. 51st St. On Saturday he was "just helping around," but eager to speak about his desire to work in the movie or communications industry.
"I am just looking forward to going directly into movie direction. I want to be a movie director. So, I am trying to get into UCLA. And then if movie director don't work out, I am going to go with communications, because I think I am good at talking."
Wynter Hawkins, a youth intern with KOCO, and an incoming freshman at Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep, 250 E. 111th St. said that she had helped with "pretty much everything, from the snowball machine to the food, to the posters right there, up there in front."
Then Wynter added, "The bouncy house is getting set up. I can't wait for people to race in there."
Brown said that he would like to see the event and other events "inspire a mass amount of young people to put on events, not only for themselves but (also) for the community that is around them."
"They love to do it," he added. "So, it's always good to have conversations and build out when events like this happen."