From A Child’s Eye
Boro Kids Get Diversity Lesson
Kids from the Sorrentino Recreation Center in Far Rockaway go Greek for the day. Tribune Photo by Jeff Feiman
By Christine Wilborne
Last week, as the city celebrated immigrant history, the New York City Parks and Recreation Department hosted its first-ever Intergenerational Festival. Children and adults got together at the Lost Battalion Hall on Queens Boulevard in Rego Park to learn about the different immigrant experiences that represent Queens’ diverse population.
The Parks and Recreation Department, which serves more than 2,000 children city wide, bussed youngsters to the Lost Battalion Hall from various recreation sites in Queens. Participating sites included the Lost Battalion Hall, the Vic Hansen, Detective Keith Williams, and Sorrentino recreation sites.
During the Intergenerational Celebration, attendees circulated among activity tables, participating in fun crafts and learning about their neighbors’ culture.
“We looked at the 2000 Census to see which immigrant populations were largest in Queens and then different centers were asked to create activity table on those cultures,” said Renee LaJeunesse, Citywide Youth and Family Coordinator for the Parks Department.
Participants made Mexican maracas and tin boxes, donned homemade crowns in honor of Latin American Three Kings Day, painted Ukrainian decorative eggs called “pysankas” and made Chinese bamboo hats. All of this fun amounted to some serious learning since each table had information attached explaining the significance of the craft. The tables also displayed flags from the country as well as information on the country’s population, agriculture and local customs.
Children from the recreational sites around the city attended the festival not just to learn but to teach as well. Each recreational site represented a culture for which the children prepared presentations. The children from the Sorrentino Recreation Center in Far Rockaway dressed in togas and discussed Greek culture. They also created a small replica of the Parthenon and made souvlaki to share at the festival.
Visitors from the Detective Keith Williams Center in Jamaica entertained festivalgoers with Jamaican (W.I.) folk songs and Caribbean dances. The children from the Vic Hanson site, also in Jamaica, dressed in salwar kameez suits and turbans and did colorful Indian dances. Maxine Clark, manager of the Vic Hanson Recreation Center, said, “The children worked hard on these projects and are excited to share what they’ve learned.” This was clearly evident by the dedication and interest the children showed in their presentations.
Representatives from the Global Classroom, an organization of college exchange students, taught the children how to wrap saris, how to dance the Merengue and explained the significance of henna designs worn by Indian women. The Global Classroom is committed to teaching younger generations about the importance of cultural diversity.
Children from the local neighborhood were also encouraged to take part in this event. Like all recreation and community centers around New York City, The Lost Battalion is open to the public and gives children an opportunity to play games and participate in programs during their spring, summer and after school breaks.
Participants in this festival said they had a wonderful time learning about new cultures. They took home great craft projects and gained a better understanding of the people who make up the neighborhoods they live in.