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Organizing community engagement events is one of the many goals
of a Parent Involvement Educator (PIE) at Indianapolis Public Schools.


A group of PIEs from several of the district’s eastside
schools did just that during the inaugural Summer Safety and Fitness
Celebration on April 28 at Harshman Magnet
Middle School
and Theodore
Potter School 74


“We wanted to create a fun event that helped to kick off
summer with things our students need,” said Carrie Murphy, parent involvement
educator at Harshman and one of the event organizers. Eleven district schools
were invited.


The celebration, which drew about 100 people, was a hit with
IPS families who participated in Zumba classes; took tennis lessons with
representatives from the United States Tennis
(USTA) and the National Junior
Tennis League
(NJTL); tested their skills on stationary bikes from Nine13Sports; and tried their luck jumping
Double Dutch. Students also received free books and tennis shoes.


But it wasn’t just about fun and games. Safety was also a
large part of the event, with 12-year-old Olivia Keith, a student at Fall Creek
Junior High School in Fishers, there to donate bike helmets.


The founder of nonprofit organization Play It Safe, Olivia donated about 50
helmets to IPS students.


“It was cool to see the kids faces (when they received their
helmets); to be able to help students is really cool,” said Olivia, a 7th-grader
who started Play It Safe to help youths reduce brain injuries.


Connie Chew, parent involvement educator at Arsenal Technical High School, said the
response from everyone was positive. “Everybody has just loved all of the
schools getting together. It’s been a real positive community event,” she said.


That was true for Beth Adams and her children Marisa, 10,
and Jabari, 7, both students at Theodore Potter. They took full advantage of
the event – each choosing a pair of free tennis shoes, books and helmets.


“It was so much fun,” said Marisa, a fourth-grader. “I
thought the bike riding was really cool, even though my legs hurt.”


While it was great seeing the school communities
co-mingling, Adams is also grateful for the helmets, shoes and books. “The free
items are great, because those things can be really expensive and they’re
things that they need.”