I grew up in a suburb of New York City.? I really feel that I had the best of both worlds.? All of the amazing cultural and entertainment opportunities offered by the City were just a few miles away, yet I had a home with a nice yard to play in, quiet streets to ride bicycle on, and a good amount of safety and security.? During the summer I enjoyed the shore.
Furthermore, I was fortunate enough that my mom?s family lives in rural New York State, so every summer we got to go experience the country for a few weeks.? My uncle had a cottage on one of the Finger Lakes, which is where I learned to skip stones, do cannonballs off the dock, and catch sunnies, bass, and perch.? There were several farms to visit, beekeepers who taught us about bees and treated us to local honey, and craft fairs that brought artisans from miles around.? In addition to the lake, there were woods to explore, rocks to climb, and plenty of open fields where I could run around and do endless cartwheels.? Above all, there was clean, fresh air to breathe.
Of course as a kid I had no idea how lucky I was to have the exposure to the simple pleasures of the country.? Even though I live in the suburbs with my own family today, I still bring my kids up to the country to see my family and play in the same places I played as a child.? It is their favorite place to go.
Unfortunately, many children who live in the city I grew up right outside of, will never get the opportunity to experience life outside of the city.? They won’t get to stretch out in a grassy meadow, roll down hills, swim in a clean lake, visit a real farm, or breathe clean air.
New York City is one the most polluted cities in the United States.? I am not just talking about litter on the streets or dirty rivers, I am talking about the air its citizens breathe.? It is filled with toxins from traffic and industry, which can cause serious chronic and acute respiratory/pulmonary and cardiac health problems; as well as wreak havoc on the skin, causing pre-mature aging, irritant and allergic reactions, and acne.
Children in the lower income areas of New York City are at a higher risk for these health problems, since they do not have the ability to protect themselves from the pollution, nor do they have the opportunities that children in more affluent areas have to leave the city and visit the country, or a less polluted suburb.? Many of these children don’t even know what a lake or an ocean looks like in real life, and have never filled their lungs with clean, fresh air.
The Fresh Air Fund is an organization that has been working to change that for 130 years.? Through their programs, children from lower income areas of New York City can become Fresh Air Children (or Fresh Air Kids), and can experience life in the country, in the suburbs, or at the beach for up to two weeks during the summer.
Through these programs, Fresh Air Children can attend one of five summer camps located in Upstate New York, or through the Friendly Town Program, experience different ways of life by staying with a volunteer host family for up to two weeks.
The Fresh Air Fund needs donations and host families to keep this program going strong.? It has affected people and changed lives in positive ways for all involved: the kids and the families.? Please click on the banner below and check out their website for more information about how you can donate, get involved, or host a Fresh Air Child.
The video below shows you how important this program is for these children,? not just giving in them the opportunity to breathe fresh air and play in a natural environment, but also by showing them that there is life outside of the city, and that through education and different learning experiences, they can achieve great things in life.
My next post will tell you about how dangerous air pollution is for the body, and in particular, for the skin.? But in the meantime, please take a look at the Fresh Air Fund, and see how you can help.
If you are a writer or blogger, please do what I did and write a post about them.? If you are on Facebook or Twitter, “like” or “follow” them, and link to them in your status.? If you are in the position to host a child for a week or two this summer, please let them know ASAP.? Their website has all the information you need about how to become a host and who to contact.
The Fresh Air Fund did not compensate me in any way for this post for for the banner at the bottom of the page.? They contacted me because they thought my readers and I might care about this cause.? It turns out I care more about it than I initially thought I would, since I grew up so near to the city, and yet had the wonderful experience of the country and the beach every summer.? It ended up being a personal matter for me, so that is why I am sharing it with you and asking you to help if you can.? Thanks.