Ten underprivileged children from New York City will visit the Cayman Islands as part of the Fresh Air Fund 2012 scheme.
Liz Clardy of the fund told the Compass that it is the sixth summer that the scheme has taken place between Cayman and New York.
“It really gives kids a different perspective; experiencing things for the first time like the beach is special. For these New York City kids life can be tough; they are from low-income families and some are in the shelter system. It gives them the opportunity to get out of the city and just be kids.
“They visit Stingray City, Turtle Farm and more locations in the Cayman Islands. In the past, they have told me that they love swimming in the sea and seeing the sand. We do not have the same stuff up in New York of course,” Ms Clardy said.
The children all come from the five boroughs of New York and there are income guidelines based on the Department of Agriculture’s Free Lunch programme, she explained, which encompasses families with an income lower than US$36,000. For the purposes of the Fresh Air Fund, an additional $20,000 bracket on top enables more children to qualify. Because of the shifting demographics of the American city, there is a diverse set of children this time around, she said, including Latin American and Asian youngsters.
While in Cayman, the children stay at host homes in the community.
“There are six new families participating in 2012 and two hosting the same kids as last year. In fact there is a waiting list for host families into 2013 as the dates did not work for some of the 2011 hosts,” she said.
The scheme is run in conjunction with Cayman Airways and the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, who Ms Clardy praised for their continued hard work in making things happen.
“The kids’ itineraries are packed from 8.30am to 6pm then the host families pick them up. When the host families ask us what to do in the evenings our message is to keep it simple,” Ms Clardy said.
This summer’s programme also marks the third year that Cayman Islands’ youngsters will visit New York in return.
“We have five camps within an hour and a half of New York City. The kids from Cayman always say they are very interested in swimming in a lake and what kind of life they can find there. There’s camping, hiking, a new planetarium – it is very busy.
“They also get an afternoon exploring New York City, which is always very exciting and they bring a few dollars for souvenirs which they love,” she said.