Family Fun Fest stresses kindness

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COLUMBIA - Family Fun Fest encouraged kindness, respect, and mental health awareness at Columbia Cosmopolitan Recreation Area on Wednesday night. 

Family Fun Fest came from Twilight Festivals that used to take place downtown. Once Twilight Festivals stopped, Columbia Parks and Recreation continued the Family Fun Fest at Flat Branch Park.

This is the first year organizers moved the summer monthly festival to Cosmo Park. The events are free to the public. The event got support from the public and local businesses.

Children's Grove is an organization that has done other community projects and created Wednesday's theme "kindness is contagious." One of the organizers said these events were encouraged once the Sandy Hook tragedy happened.

"The Children's Grove committee was kind of an offshoot of putting kids first, and they wanted to install a grove of crabapple magnolia trees at Stephens Lake Park to kind of just be a commemoration and a reminder to always think about kindness, think about children, think about the importance of mental health awareness," said Recreation Specialist with Columbia Parks and Recreation Cassie Dins.

As far as suicide prevention Dins said, "Just paying attention and recognizing the signs when someone needs help with a mental health issue."

First Chance for Children Executive Director Jack Jensen said, "Today we're very much about acts of kindness and trying to demonstrate that in the community and just those simple acts of kindness improve everybody's life, and we want to get that message out."

"This is to help people recognize others' cries for help and to address it in a kind, courteous and medical manner," Dins said. "It's one of those things where you need a little push to the floor front to remember children face these issues."

Family Fun Fest is on the third Wednesday of every month from May to September in Cosmo Park. This month's Family Fun Fest was moved due to rain the week before.