NYC kids come to Central New York for some ‘fresh air’

Debra Green, her daughter Trinity, 14, and Aissata Samake, 15, of the Bronx, relax after lunch at Maroun Elementary School last week. Samake has been spending weeks with the Green family through the Fresh Air Fund program.
Debra Green, her daughter Trinity, 14, and Aissata Samake, 15, of the Bronx, relax after lunch at Maroun Elementary School last week. Samake has been spending weeks with the Green family through the Fresh Air Fund program.

By Debra J. Groom

Aissata Samake is back in Pennellville for more fun-filled weeks with the Green family.

Samake, 15, if a Fresh Air kid, up in Central New York from her home in the Bronx. This is her fourth summer with the Greens.

“It’s quieter up here and there’s less buildings and less cars – pretty much less everything,” Samake said.

But the “less everything” is just what she wants. Like most Fresh Air participants, the program gives kids who live in New York City a chance to get out of the big city and experience a quieter, more peaceful life in Upstate New York.

A small group of Fresh Air children arrived in Fulton July 8 – just before the humongous rainstorm hit the city.

Volunteer host families like the Greens are sharing their summers for up to two weeks with Fresh Air children, ages six to 18, who “leave behind the city streets to run barefoot in the grass or see the stars at night,” according to a Fresh Air news release.

The Greens have been hosting Fresh Air children for about eight years.

“I had always wanted to do it – it’s the coolest thing,” said mom Debra Green. “We love getting to know the kids and finding out what living up here is versus living in the city. And we love the different perspectives they have on the world. We get to see the world through their eyes.”

While in Pennellville, Samake plans to go shopping, visit Darien Lake to ride and rides and see Luke Bryan, go to the Y on Wetzel Road in Liverpool to join in Debra Green’s running club (she is a runner at her school at home) and go swimming.

The family also is going to a lake in Mallorytown, Ontario, Canada, where Samake and Green will try out the rowboat they built at the H. Lee White Marine Museum in Oswego during a boat-building seminar last summer.

Samake also is getting a chance to walk around the Syracuse University campus. She hopes to do her undergraduate studies there before heading to medical school to become a pediatrician.

The Greens are active in the John C. Birdlebough High marching band and winter guard and Samake has become an honorary member of the marching band, attending band camp in August during her previous visits.

The Fresh Air Fund, an independent, nonprofit agency, has provided free summer experiences to more than 1.8 million New York City children from low-income communities since 1877.

Fresh Air children are boys and girls, from six to 18 years old, who live in New York City. Children on first-time visits are six to 12 years old and stay for one or two weeks.

Children who are reinvited by host families may continue with The Fresh Air Fund through age 18 and can enjoy extended trips. More than 65 percent of all children are reinvited to stay with their host families, year after year.

For more information on hosting a Fresh Air child, call Vicki Bracco at 391-7852 or visit The Fresh Air Fund online at www.freshair.org.

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