With the school year looming ahead, I wanted to take some time to reflect on one of my favorite NYC summertime events: block parties!
I’ve had a blast volunteering at block parties in Harlem and Washington Heights. I’ve run activities tables for kids ranging from storytelling to magic wand making.
There’s an amazing, hectic energy in this work. It can go from me standing around to six kids all asking for help with a craft in a matter of seconds!
Unlike working in a classroom or through program where there’s a set time and attendance list, block party work really keeps me on my toes!
I also like to come a little early and volunteer with the set up when I can. As a program provider in the community, I think it’s important to be involved in events I don't plan.
If all I did was show up to the garden or roll into the library for my half-hour sessions that would technically be enough (since that’s all I’m asked), but putting in the extra effort shows the families I’m working with that I’m here to stay, not just parachute in for my programs.
Plus, it can be fun! When I worked the West 150th block party I showed up early and they put me on letter board duty!
Block parties are a great space for working with whole families. In programs, parents sometimes feel like they should sit out unless asked to be directly involved. But at the parties, everything happens so fast and the energy so high! I've had parents who are just as interested in the activity as their child and who sit down to really engage in wonderful ways with their kid around completing the craft. That's where it's at!
If you're out and about in the city next summer and see me working a booth come by and say hello!