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Since 1877, The Fresh Air Fund has been giving inner-city kids in New York the joy of a summer vacation with volunteer host families and at Fund camps, creating unforgettable memories and fresh possibilities.
Every year, nearly 10,000 New York City children enjoy free Fresh Air Fund programs. In 2008, close to 5,000 children visited volunteer host families in suburbs and small town communities across 13 states from Virginia to Maine and Canada.
Three thousand children also attended five Fresh Air camps on a 2300-acre site in Fishkill, New York.
The Fund’s year-round camping program serves an additional 2,000 young people each year.
The Fresh Air Fund is an independent, not-for-profit agency.
The Friendly Town Program
Children are selected to participate in the Fresh Air Fund Friendly Town program based on financial need. Children from low-income communities are registered by more than 90 social-service and community organizations in all five boroughs of New York City.
Fresh Air children are boys and girls from six- to 18-years-old. They visit 300 Fresh Air Friendly Towns in the summer. Children on first-time visits to Friendly Town host families are six to 12 years old and stay for up to six weeks.
The program also has a special one-week option for New York City families who would like to host children on their summer vacations in the country.
Over 65 percent of all children are reinvited to stay with host families year after year. Reinvited children may continue with the Fund through age 18, and many spend the entire summer in the country. These children and volunteer families often form bonds of friendship that last a lifetime.
Friendly Town Host Families
Host families open their homes to inner-city children for two weeks or more in the summertime. Each Friendly Town community is supervised by a committee of volunteers. Committee members select host families after reviewing their applications, visiting them in their homes and checking their personal references.
There are no financial requirements for hosting a Fresh Air child. Most hosts simply want to share their homes with inner-city youngsters.
Host families are not paid. The Fund has a program for placing children who have special physical or emotional needs.
Fresh Air Fund Camping Program
Three thousand New York City youngsters, ages 8 to 15, attend Fresh Air camps on a 23,00-acre site in Fishkill New York.
- Camp Hidden Valley is for boys and girls with and without special needs who are 8- to 12-years- old.
- Camp Tommy is for 12- to 15-year-old boys.
- Camp Anita Bliss Coler is for girls who are 9 to 12.
- Camp Hayden-Marks Memorial is for 9- to 12-year-old boys.
- Camp Mariah is a coed camp for 12- to 14-year-old career campers.
Additionally, 2,000 young people participate in year-round weekend camping experiences.
Special features shared by all camps include a planetarium, model farm, wilderness trail and ropes course. Camp Tommy is named in honor of Board member/designer Tommy Hilfiger for his dedication and support of Fresh Air children.
Career Awareness Program
The Fresh Air Fund’s innovative Career Awareness Program is designed to help New York City youngsters understand the relationship between school and work, and how to make choices that will determine their futures. In New York City, 12- to 14-year-olds participate in job shadowings that offer close-up views of business and a career fair. The year-round program includes weekend camping trips and an intensive three-and-a-half week summer session at the Career Awareness Camp — Camp Mariah.
Ther career camp is named in honor of Board member/singer Mariah Carey for her dedication, support and commitment to Fresh Air Youngsters.
Career Awareness graduates continue to receive support through the PreOccupations Club and benefit from the guidance of volunteer mentors.
Vist http://www.freshair.org to volunteer or contribute to this very important project.
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