Jamaica After School Program Keeps Kids Productive

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Queens students take part in Teen P.A.S.S.

BY TRONE DOWD

With the school year in full swing, a local organization is hold free after school programs in Jamaica to keep middle school kids engaged in productive activities long after the dismissal bell rings.

Teen P.A.S.S. (parks, arts, science, sports) is a project-based program that gives students a chance to learn about environmental science, urban nature, arts, sports and fitness. According to the City Parks Foundation, the program “creates a safe space for young people to grow as scientists and artists, nature lovers and healthy individuals alongside expert educators.” It also provides academic and homework help for students who may need some assistance at school. This year marks the program’s third in the city.

Oceana Porter, who works with students at the various programs, told the PRESS of Southeast Queens that the program has been an “outstanding success” in previous years. All but one of the program’s participating students from last year have returned for another year of educational fun.

“Our main job is to make sure kids stay active in the park—whether it’s by making jewelry using rocks, learning about hurricanes, holding bake sales and raising money to help those in need, painting, planting and harvesting, cooking and much more,” she said.

Porter said that the kids are working on new projects year-round that are productive for themselves and the community. Skills—such as recycling and the importance of taking care of one’s community—are among the lessons that are part of the program’s curriculum. The groups also take trips beyond Southeast Queens for activities such as fishing.

The clubs run from September through June on weekday afternoons as well as select Saturdays and school holidays at Detective Keith Williams Recreation Center, located at 106-16 173rd St. in St. Albans.

Sessions begin at 3 p.m. and run until 6 p.m. every weekday. Registration for the free program is still open to all Queens residents. Those interested are encouraged to visit www.CityParksFoundation.org for more information and to sign up.

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