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THE COURIER/Photos by Alina Suriel
THE COURIER/Photos by Alina Suriel
Children played in a recreation room at the YMCA while their parents signed them up for the Fresh Air Fund during a registration kickoff.

Some Queens kids are giving up summer in the city for a breath of fresh air.

The YWCA of Queens in Flushing hosted a registration kickoff event Thursday for the Fresh Air Fund, a nonprofit that provides free summer experiences outside New York City for children from low-income families.

Families were able to register for the program while their children played a variety of card games with each other. The program has served 1.8 million youngsters since its creation in 1877.

Jenny Morgenthau, executive director of the Fresh Air Fund, said that the program is educational because kids can learn new things and gain experiences they would not normally be able to have. According to Morgenthau, for many kids it is a first chance to go swimming, climb a tree, or see a sky full of stars without New York City’s light pollution.

“On the most basic level, they look forward to fun,” Morgenthau said. “It’s an opportunity for children to be children and to play in a safe place.”

Helen J. Kim, executive director of the Queens YWCA, said that her organization has been an outreach center for the Fresh Air Fund for the past four years, and that she hopes the partnership will continue to provide services to our community.

“It’s very important for students in our community to have a chance to go out of the city environment to have a summer in the country,” Kim said.

Previous attendees of the program said that the Fresh Air camps provided a welcome change from their everyday lives.

“Life in the city is pretty busy. You’re always running from here to there and it’s so crowded,” said Frida, 14,  who attended one of five Fresh Air camps on a 2,300-acre site in Fishkill, New York. “The trees and nature, everything calms you down from all the stress you get being in the city.”

Even the youngest Fresh Air Fund kids had something to say about what they enjoyed in the program.

“It’s different because I get to feed baby cows and squeeze milk from the big cows,” said Lia, 7.

 

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