A plant needs water, sunlight, and fresh air in order to grow. So does a child. However, children who live in big cities seldom have the space, much less the fresh air they need.
The latest State of the Air report by the National Lung Association shows that the air in major cities in the US are so dirty they can “harm your body and risk your life.”
It takes a lot of foresight to foresee what quality of life and air will be in a hundred years but this was what some visionaries did more than 130 years ago when The Fresh Air Fund was founded, a unique non-profit organization. Unique in a sense that unlike most charity organizations, it does not give the recipients – children – material things or services. What it gives is – fresh air and clean fun!
Look at the activities listed below:
- Playing in the backyard
- Picking wild flowers
- Laughing in the sunshine
- Catching fireflies
- Riding bicycles
- Learning to swim
- Running barefoot through the grass
- Gazing at the stars on moonlit nights
- Building sandcastles
- Making new friends
These are simple things that children in rural areas (including my kids) may take for granted, but many children in big cities will grow up without experiencing all these things.
The Fresh Air Fund is based on the simple mission that city children should get the chance to breathe fresh air and commune with nature. It was initially set up to help children affected the tuberculosis epidemic in the New York City tenements way back in the 1800s. And if one cannot change the city and its air, the next feasible thing is take the child somewhere where it is green and clean. However, all children – not only those with respiratory illness – deserve a respite from the pollutions of the city and to have clean air in their lungs. Since it started in 1877, the Fund has given the gift of fresh air to more than 1.7 million NYC kids.
The Fresh Air Fund gives hundreds of inner city children every summer vacation the chance to enjoy nature and breathe fresh air out in the country side. The children are especially from the New York area aged 6 to 18 years old, whose family cannot afford paying for a vacation The organization hosts these kids in five Fresh Air camps. The camps are located in upstate New York and are also open the whole year round for off season camping and educational field trips.
However, building and maintaining the summer vacation camps is not an easy thing. The Fresh Air Fund needs all the help it can get to continue its work. Here are ways we can help.
Host a child. In order to accommodate more children than what the camps can hold, Fresh Air Fund has solicited the help of rural and suburban families to host city children. The Friendly Town Program has host families in 13 American states and in Canada. Your family could be one of them. Check out the hosting area map.
Volunteer. You can donate your services to the organization in many ways, as camp counselors and helpers as well as volunteers in running the organization. Since a couple of years, optometrists work pro bono to provide eye tests for the summer camp children.
Donate. If you neither have the time to volunteer or the space to host a child, but have the financial means, donating is the best way of supporting the fund. Recently, a very generous donor has offered to match all donations given to the Fresh Air Fund before June 30. This means that any donations they get will be doubled!
This is your chance to give the gift of fresh air!