Fresh Air Friday – give an inner city kid a breath of fresh air

If you’re in the New York City area and missed out on getting into the NYC Half-Marathon – or just want to help support a fantastic cause – dial up the Fresh Air Fund Racers for the March 20th New York City Half-Marathon.

Ready to be a part of one of the world’s best road races? Join The Fresh Air Fund-Racers on March 20th, 2011! The amazing 13.1-mile course takes you through beautiful Central Park, action-packed Times Square and ends with breathtaking finish-line views of the New York City harbor. More than 11,000 runners, of all ages and abilities, finished the NYC Half-Marathon last year, and we are so proud of our very own 2010 Fresh Air Fund-Racers who ran and raised $100,000 for us!

THE FRESH AIR FUND, an independent, not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer vacations to more than 1.7 million New York City children from low-income communities since 1877. Nearly 10,000 New York City children enjoy free Fresh Air Fund programs annually. In 2010, close to 5,000 children visited volunteer host families in suburbs and small town communities across 13 states from Virginia to Maine and Canada. 3,000 children also attended five Fresh Air camps on a 2,300-acre site in Fishkill, New York. The Fund’s year-round camping program serves an additional 2,000 young people each year.

Sadly, I don’t think I can get my mileage up to a half in five or six weeks. But I encourage you folks in the tri-state area who can to consider joining The Fresh Air Fund Racers.

I never truly understood the value of the outdoors to my mental clarity and inner peace until I moved to the Rocky Mountain West. But for some kids in New York City, the park in my hometown 11 miles away would be an escape.

I had no idea of the importance of The Fresh Air Fund when I was a kid. But I wanted to support their activities here on the PLoS blog in honor of my high school friend, John Griffin, who perished in the World Trade Center terrorist attacks. He and his wife, June, used to open their New Jersey home to kids sponsored by the Fresh Air Fund to give them a summer respite from concrete and asphalt. (I can’t get The Lovin’ Spoonfuls’ 1966 song, “Summer in the City,” out of my mind.)

In fact, if you would care to open your home to a city kid or two or just two weeks this coming summer, check out the host family page at The Fresh Air Fund.

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One Response to Fresh Air Friday – give an inner city kid a breath of fresh air

  1. Gaythia says:

    This brings back memories. I was on the opposite side of this equation, a kid in a host family that was part of one of the “friendly town” communities. For me, this was always fun. My sisters and I got new playmates. This was like a breath of fresh air and new ideas for me, in a social structure that was otherwise quite stifling in its small town-ish-ness. There were special community BBQ and town swimming pool events, with other participating community families that we didn’t really socialize with all that much otherwise. Our family went into high gear with days packed with boating, fishing, picnicking, hiking and visits to farms, zoos, museums and everything in Eastern Washington that might be interesting to a visitor. And our family was unique, in that later in the year, my parents always made an extra effort for us to travel to Seattle (their hometown) and made arrangements to stop by to visit our former guests in their homes or a local venue like a park or a museum.

    But this always had an underlying awkwardness. We were in our normal environment, but the fresh air kids were dropped into surroundings that were probably very, very strange to them. It wasn’t like summer camp, where all the kids were equally lonely. The whole program was based on the idea, or at least our “friendly town” seemed to buy into the idea, that our way was superior, and these kids would benefit by at least a small taste of what our lives had to offer every day. As an adult, I’m not so sure of myself. Might have been good if those buses had run into Seattle, rather than away from it. Maybe these days, with the internet and better telecommunications, the kids could keep more of a connection with each other, I know that I did not.

    I’d be curious to hear the adult perspectives of a former “fresh air” kid.