Now in our second year coming out of the pandemic, BronxWorks summer activities were back in full swing. Last year our summer programming operated on a smaller scale and maintained many virtual elements. While some of those virtual elements remain, the 2022 summer schedule returned in-person and in a big way with the Summer Rising initiative, our summer camps and Cornerstone programming, Summer Youth Employment Program, and more.
The BronxWorks Summer Rising initiative included X149 South Bronx Preparatory School, PS 42, and PS 130. The Summer Rising initiative was a free six-week program for students in elementary and middle school. Participants received academic support in the morning from DOE certified teachers followed by enrichment activities in the afternoon facilitated by BronxWorks staff. Over 500 elementary and middle school students enrolled in BronxWorks Summer Rising this year. In addition, we held six more summer day camps for children K-5, and programming at each of our Cornerstone Community Centers for participants K-HS. In total, over 800 students joined us for BronxWorks summer programming.
Our summer participants enjoyed a menu of activities each day. They learned about architecture and engineering through the Salvadori Center and built earthquake resistant structures out of toothpicks and clay. They learned acting, improv, and self-expression skills through Playocity.
A partnership called Bigs In Blue brought officers from the NYPD 40th precinct to mentor our middle schoolers on a range of important topics and to foster positive conversations between young people and police officers. For their community service project, students and officers created a campaign called “Keeping the School Clean” and made signs and PSAs to get out their message. Another partnership with the NYC Parks Department brought students into the woods at Van Cortlandt Park to learn Orienteering and Wilderness Skills.
Through our own intergenerational project, Building Practice that Creates and Sustains Intergenerational Community Centers, we partnered across our Children & Youth and Older Adult Services Departments to bring together older and younger people to learn with each other and foster that cross-generational bond between these key groups in our communities. Over the six week program, students and seniors came together to garden, to cook, to share stories about their families and their culture, to make maps, and other arts and crafts.
BronxWorks SNAP-Ed Educators gave nutrition and fitness workshops. Students also participated in Teen Battle Chef (TBC), a hands on culinary skills program that meets our participants where they are at in the world of nutrition and cooking. The program culminates in a cook-off where participants demonstrate a recipe to a panel of judges.
Students also enjoyed a choice of outdoor and physical activities. Bike NYC brought classes to St. Mary’s Park where our students learned the skills and gained experience needed to enjoy safely biking in an urban environment. Participants were able to go on bike trips to Randall’s Island and through Crotona Park. Gotham Tennis also provided lessons throughout the summer to introduce the sport of tennis to our participants. They have even offered one student a scholarship to continue lessons throughout the year.
As always, STEM played a big part in our summer plans. The Salvadori Center brought even more lessons and projects to demonstrate the relevance of math, science, and the arts as it relates to buildings, bridges, and parks, and our communities. We also brought in Building Beats to teach students the science of music production and how to produce, mix, and engineer their very own beats. There were science and math lessons with HYPOTHEKids and fashion and cosmetology activities. The summer work culminated in a STEM Expo at our Classic Cornerstone Community Center where participants from all of our summer programs came together to demonstrate what they had learned. Learn more about the STEM Expo.
Of course, one of the highlights for summer participants are field trips. This year we packed our schedule with as many trips as we could find. We went to Coney Island, the Central Park Zoo, the New York Aquarium, Billy Beez, Bowlmor Lanes, Boundless Adventures, the Bronx Zoo, the Museum of Natural History, Sporttime USA, Sesame Place, Dave & Busters, Van Cortlandt Park, Randalls Island, and more!
Summer Youth Employment Program
If you know anything about the summer at BronxWorks, you know about the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). This year, 1,327 young people ages 12-24 signed up to gain work experience or take on summer-long project-based learning. 778 older participants ages 16-24 were placed across 225 worksites at BronxWorks or with partner organizations. The interns are paid a stipend and gain valuable work experience.
Participants ages 12-15 work in project-based learning groups focused on a variety of topics, including environmental and social justice, food equity, nutrition, and culinary skills. The groups are conducted with both virtual and hybrid models, meeting every week to discuss topics and share their work. Groups studying environmental activism completed team-building and leadership exercises and learned to make infographics and other ways to communicate information.
Groups studying nutrition learned about healthy eating, food deserts, and careers in food. They took trips to stores and learned to cook recipes together.
Summer Programming at the Family Residences
Big things are also happening this summer at BronxWorks Family Residences! We partnered with NYC Children’s Theater to bring theater and music literacy to our residents. Through the program, NYC Children’s Theater brings volunteer artists to each site every week. The volunteers lead activities and exercises to promote the arts and support the emotional-wellbeing of the children living at all three Family Residences. The activities are designed with calming rituals and include reading and acting out books, singing songs, and mindfulness and breathing exercises.
There are nature walks and picnics at Wendell Park, and trips to the library for story time and arts and crafts, a behind the scenes field trip to a restaurant to speak with the owners and meet the cooks and learn about the importance of food and culture. The New York City Football Club has also invited the children to participate in their recreational soccer programs. Last but not least, we have the end of summer trip coming up, where children from all three residences will go to the American Dream Mall. The Childcare programs prepare an 8am to 6pm schedule every day for the children living in our family residences to help them enjoy the summer, give them an opportunity to spend time outside of the shelters.