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Celebrating Youth's Firsts

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“I had many firsts this year at Concrete Safaris. This is my first afterschool program and I am really having a fun time. It is my first time learning how to ride a bike. I used to fall while trying to learn how to ride a bike when I was younger and I became scared but I’m not afraid to ride anymore. This is also my first time learning about photography and how to use a camera. Friday’s are my favorite days because we go on field trips. Going to Battery Park was my favorite field trip because I had never been there before.”


“When I first started coming to Concrete Safaris’ Outdoor Leadership Academy last year, I didn’t know anything about biking or gardening. It took me awhile but I finally learned how to ride a bike this year. I fell a couple of times but I finally get it now and I am not afraid to ride. I also learned a lot about more about vegetables and fruits here. I remember when we planted tomatoes in the garden because it was really fun.”

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“I learned about photography and how to take pictures at Concrete Safaris. It was my first time using a camera and now I know how to work a camera and all of the buttons on it. I learned how to take pictures standing in different positions and that taking pictures of the smallest things can make the pictures nicer."


“I really like coming to Concrete Safaris after school because I enjoy when we play outside, go to the park and ride bikes. The teacher taught me how to ride a bike and I am really happy. I didn’t know how to ride bikes before and I used to be really scared. I also like when we are drawing, taking pictures and going on field trips on Fridays."


“My first field trip was to the wooden playground in Central Park. Even though it was my first trip it was still one of my favorite moments at Concrete Safaris. After completing my homework with help from my favorite after school teachers, we go outside to play and have fun everyday. When we are outside we have fun by doing different activities. I really like to garden. Photography is my second favorite activity because I like taking pictures. My first experience at Concrete Safaris began when I was in the 1st grade.”


How are you connected to this work?

I had a great experience working with Concrete Safaris-SYEP this summer and I learned a lot. By working with the photography cohort, I not only learned to take pictures but I also learned to see New York from an entirely different perspective. I made new friends from different backgrounds and I got to learn about New York in general. we get to see places in New York that we have never seen before. Traveling all over New York including places such as Hudson Yards, Pier 5 and Wards Island, the message that I took from my experience was that New York City was art in itself. The juxtaposition of buildings and lands. There is so much art within the street cultures. 

My experience working with Concrete Safaris this summer has helped me grow and flourish in multiple areas in my life.  I learned how to better help my community. I've learned to use diversity as inspiration. Today, I apply everything I have learned to my role as the President of Business Magazine at my High School and in my role as the President of the Fashion Club.  This year my goal is to incorporate more diversity to both of the clubs I am involved in and in my school in general. Without my experiences with Concrete Safaris this summer, I would not have this outlook and be able to implement the changes in my school now. 

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City Surfers After School and Summer Camp serves 144 children (ages 7 - 11) in East Harlem each year. In the school year, after school is offered 3-hours per afternoon from September - June. In the summer, camp is offered all day, 5-days per week, for 6-weeks in July and August. These free programs offer cycling, fitness, gardening, photography, advocacy and citizenship, field trips, homework help or enrichment, and nature art. Families depend on the generosity of individuals like you to make these life-changing opportunities possible in East Harlem.