NORWOOD - The friendship between children can be quite magical. The experiences shared over two summers can create a connection that allows children to grow and open up to the opportunities fresh air can bring.
Bonded by the excitement of a worm being put on a hook, or your first fish being caught, the touch of a cow eating from your hand and the feel of fish swimming around your feet in a lake are all experiences Fresh Air children enjoy for the first time alongside the children of host families.
My daughter, Madison, and my Fresh Air child, Amaya, are like sisters. Being a little older, Amaya looks after Madison like she was her own sibling. The relationship is truly special, Fresh Air Fund host Brittany Ashley.
Brittany and Shane Ashley aand their daughter Madison, have welcomed Amaya to their Norwood home for two summers through The Fresh Air Funds Volunteer Host Family Program.
When Brittany was a child, her mom had a Fresh Air child so when she had a daughter in 200, she knew it would be nice for her only child to have a Fresh Air friend to keep her company and to keep her mothers tradition alive.
This experience brightens the world of a city child and my child and is a lot of fun for the entire family, including my mother. You do not have to have a child to host. It is the support and outdoor opportunities that matter, she said.
The Fresh Air Fund, an independent, not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer experiences to more than 1.8 million New York City children from low-income neighborhoods since 1877.
Each summer, over 4,000 inner-city children visit suburban, rural, and small town communities across 13 states from Virginia to Maine and Canada through The Fresh Air Funds Volunteer Host Family Program.
Last summer, Amaya and the Ashley family enjoyed camping at Higley State Park in Colton, kayaking and fishing at Norwood Pond, playing with family dogs Kaydee, Emma and cat Charlie and feeding local farm animals, including a cow at Old McDonalds Farm in Sackets Harbor.
Amaya is the most courageous and brave young girl I know. She screamed when she first saw a cow and goat but still wanted to feed them despite thinking they were gross and scary. Nature itself is a fun and wonderful thing, Ms. Ashley said.
Amaya especially loves playing and waking the family pets, as well as swimming and playing endlessly outside with Madison.
The Fresh Air Fund is always seeking host families to enable as many New York City children as possible to benefit from a summer experience outside of the city.
To learn more about how to become a host family this summer, please call Earline LaFleur at 315-528-2700 or visit The Fresh Air Fund online atwww.freshair.org.