Organizers are throwing a huge party Sunday with plenty of games, music, art and hobbies to try, and they hope it inspires kids to “just say yes” to fun, activities and potential occupations that could improve their lives for years to come.
Students from throughout La Salle, Bureau and Putnam counties all received invitations at their schools, and organizers from Perfectly Flawed Foundation are welcoming all students from kindergarten through eighth grade to the first Back2School Bash in Baker Lake Park, Peru.
Perfectly Flawed Foundation founder Luke Tomsha, who battled addiction problems for years, said the organization hopes to add more activities in subsequent years. One thing the Perfectly Flawed Foundation tries to do is to help and inspire children at a young age to show them a world of options or a purpose rather than a world of despair that can lead to drug or alcohol abuse.
“This is an event we hope to build on year after year,” Tomsha said. “This is just a way to show some general youth enrichment, to showcase what’s out there for youth.”
The day’s activities include three group contests for those wishing to participate: sack races, water balloon toss and a hula hoop contest.
The event is free. Lunch will also be served.
The Bash begins with registration at exactly 11 a.m. and continues until 3 p.m.
Along with registration, each participant will receive a ticket for entry in the numerous prizes to be given away. Drawings will be held throughout the event.
Local businesses and community groups will offer youth an opportunity to “discover their passion” — ranging from art, music, woodworking, sports and more. In addition, The Perfectly Flawed Foundation is hosting a photo booth, dunk tank and open-mic throughout the event. Ballet Folklorico De Colores dancers from the Mendota area also will be performing at 1 pm.
“We’re advertising it for kindergarten through eighth-grade students, but really we encourage anyone to come out for the day,” said Matt Klein, one of the organizers. “A huge part of Perfectly Flawed’s mission, and it always has been, is to focus on the kids.
“This event really aims to inspire kids to find their passion no matter what it is. We’re going to have a whole range of different activities. Myself, I’m interested in music, so we’re going to have a lot of different things that are music there, we’re going to have karate, sports, dance, we’re having a dance performance by a local group. We’re going to have yoga, music lessons, art, disc golf, wood turning…
Another organizer, Diane Schallhorn, said she hopes the Bash exposes each participant to things they might try as a hobby, or even inspire a path toward studies or career interests.
“Local businesses and vendors will have an opportunity to showcase their unique craft, whatever that may be,” said Schallhorn. “Each student or participant that comes to our event will have an opportunity to go to that person’s booth and learn a little more about it and see if it’s something that they may have an interest in or that may strike a chord with them and ignite their passion.”
Klein said maybe more kids learn to play disc golf and then “that’s something they can do with their friends for fun. I think the event has a good balance.”
Tomsha said Perfectly Flawed has several goals, including “creative prevention.”
“For me, I really think my drug use went back to a lack of purpose,” he said.
Rather than a “just say no” message he is hoping to help young people “find something to say yes to.”
“A big part of our mission is trying to encourage purposeful living and things that give people fulfillment on the inside rather than just pursuing something because it’s driven by money,” he said.
Tomsha thinks he would have experienced more success if he found out what he wanted to do through exposure to various activities and occupations. He thinks he would have been better off “had I gone to community college to try to decide what I wanted to do, what I really enjoyed based on my interest.”
“Because I was good at math, I went into engineering,” Tomsha said. “I studied engineering and I went into a career for 15 years in I.T. The only reason I went to the U of I is because you’re supposed to go to college, you were supposed to get that highly successful job. And I went into a career that I really didn’t enjoy. It didn’t fit my personality and it led to me looking to find fulfillment in other places in my life.”
Craig Sterrett can be reached at (815) 220-6935 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_NewsEditor.