Friday, May 16, 2008

A Breath of Fresh Air

Though summer is coming, I know that many inner-city kids will never have the fun of running barefoot through fields, paddling in a lake, or sitting outside in a night silence broken only by the sound of crickets.

But 1.7 million children have had just such a chance, thanks to one great idea proposed by the minister of a small Pennsylvania parish. Some 135 years ago, he asked his congregation to host the neediest children of New York City on country vacations. That program continues today as the Fresh Air Fund.

Some l0,000 kids a year participate, half at one of the Fund’s five camps, 3,000 at year-round programs, and 2,000 staying with host families. First-time visitors, ages 6 to 12, come for a week or two. Over 65% are invited by host families to return, often for longer visits and until they “graduate” from the program at l8. I love the idea of giving young, impressionable kids a glimpse at the possibilities life can offer.