STREAM Kids Expo, a nonprofit designed to challenge kids, held its Back 2 School Bash for kids in the Westfield Valencia Town Center parking lot Saturday.
According to STREAM founder, Niamani Knight, 18, the organization’s name stands for science, technology, reading, engineering, arts and manufacturing, and she had started the organization when she was 13 years old.
Knight said that events like Saturday support kids in the community by helping them bridge the gap between students and STREAM subjects by providing interactive learning experiences and encouraging students of every learning style and ability to find their passions.
“Today we have our first-ever STREAM Back 2 School Bash, and the goal is to get students mentally and physically prepared to go back to school,” said Knight. “We’re all about making sure that kids know the community is behind them as they go through this next school year, and that we’re just here to support them.”
Kids came in to the event to experience different interactive booths all set up around health and wellness. Included at the event were Straightening Reins, which had brought dwarf goats for animal therapy, the Los Angeles County Library was talking about the importance of reading, as well as a chiropractor talking about the healthy weight for backpacks, and many more, according to Knight.
“Going through the new school year, there may be some new changes, like a new teacher, new friends, or a whole new environment and so that can be a little scary,” said Knight. “So if they know that the community is behind them, it’s definitely going to be a better year.”
Knight said more than 100 kids had showed up for the event Saturday, and many of them participated in ZTAG, a multiplayer tag game set up during the event which includes more than 40 players at once and uses wearable wireless devices to detect who’s “it.”
“In this day and age with social media, my kids spend a lot of time on the screen and less time outside and playing,” said Stan Liu, chief operating officer for ZTAG. “And we wanted kids, and our players, to be empowered and have an opportunity to create social interaction with each other, as well as have some physical activity.”
One such kid in attendance at the event and playing ZTAG, Jerome Rhodes, 12, was there because he wanted to both get information about his dream job of being a mechanical engineer who works on roller coasters, as well as run around with other kids outside.
“(ZTAG) is just a fun game where you get to run around outside,” said Rhodes. “It got me outside, and not be inside all day because I do that a lot.”
“We came out here because of his interest in roller coasters,” said Kenny Rhodes, Jerome’s father. “This is a nice blend of what he wants to do, and what I want him to do.”