From concrete to the country, Franklin County receives children from NYC

Program was created in 1877 by minister who wanted to show inner-city children a different way of life

ERVING, Mass. (WWLP) – The Fresh Air Fund is a program that allows children to experience something different than the hustle and bustle of New York City.

“So we have been swimming basically and having lots of fun,” said Raniya Robertson of Brooklyn, New York.

12-year-old Raniya Robertson is one of 11 children who boarded a bus from New York City to Greenfield to experience something different for part of her summer. She’s participating in the Fresh Air Fund. A program that allows children from low-income families in New York City to travel to one of 13 different states, including Massachusetts. The idea is to allow inner-city children to experience the difference between city and rural life.

For many children who partake in the Fresh Air Fund, it’s a chance to get out of the city to have new experiences. It also can be a learning experience, not just for the children, but for the host parents as well. “It’s a great learning experience. It was good for us and for Catherine. It was really interesting to hear about what she (Raniya) does during the summer as compared to what we do,” said Laura Bezio, Raniya’s host mother.

Laura’s daughter, Catherine, is a single child and because of that Raniya has become like the sister she’s never had. “I like having another person because sometimes I get bored and a little lonely, but when Raniya’s here it’s a lot more fun,” said Catherine, Raniya’s host sister.

Many children stay with their host families for at least a week and develop relationships that last for years. The Fresh Air Fund was created back in 1877 in Pennsylvania by a minister who wanted to show inner-city children a different way of life.

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