Fun for all ages; City’s recreation program includes activities for everyone

WEST NEW YORK – Now that school is out and the sun is shining, the last thing anyone wants to do is sit inside. Even the promise of air conditioning and lemonade can’t keep children indoors all day. West New York’s children won’t have to be – and neither will their parents, or grandparents. With city-run activities ranging from swim classes and basketball to academic enhancement programs and arts and crafts, everyone can find something to enjoy. Different aspects of the city’s summer recreation program are targeted at teens, toddlers with mothers, and senior citizens. Teenagers can get paid to help with the program. According to Mayor Albio Sires, 350 teenagers are employed by the program. Children from ages five to 10 can go just about anywhere in the city to find games of wiffle ball, stick ball or soccer that were set up through the summer recreation program. “Since Mayor Albio Sires came into office,” said Dennis DeSocio, West New York’s recreation director, “The recreation program has expanded greatly.” “When I first took office,” said Sires. “I felt that a lot was lacking in the recreation program. We set out to build it.” This year’s summer program began on July 5 and runs through to August 22. Registration is free of charge with proof of residency. Children also need a parental consent form. Learning the basics This comprehensive program allows kids to learn the rules of a particular sport as well as to develop the skills needed to play. Deborah Acevedo, a recent graduate of Memorial High School who has been working with the program since her sophomore year, is an instructor with the volleyball program at the Joseph Coviello Recreation Center, 57th Street and Broadway. “We train the kids while they are in grammar school to learn to play on a high school level,” said Acevedo. Acevedo teaches her volleyball players how to hit the ball and control it through various drills and practices. The children can also learn these skills in basketball, wiffle ball and cheerleading and gymnastics at the recreation center. “Sometimes they don’t like the drills,” said Acevedo, who played on Memorial High School’s varsity volleyball team her junior and senior years. “But they do take something positive out of it.” These games teach children how to work together as a team and also build the kids’ self-confidence, explained Acevedo. Besides the city’s Little League program, the soccer program is probably the largest organized summer sports activity in the city. “The soccer program services about 400 children,” said Sires. The program was also expanded to include free use of the West New York pool from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Along with sports, children are also taught about mixing colors and art from Robert Koggy, a teacher’s aide at Memorial High School. On a recent Tuesday, a group of about 20 children began painting and coloring pictures in the Recreation Center’s art classroom. Rigoberto Rodriguez, an 8-year old boy, boasted of painting a special tree as part of his scene, which included clouds and a house. The tree had a purple outline with a yellow trunk. Another girl was painting flowers of all different colors. “I’ll teach them some little things,” said Koggy. “One girl just asked me how to make brown.” Koggy explained how to mix several colors to make the color brown. Adults get involved Many senior citizens also take part in the recreation program. Activities for them include swimming and Tai Chi classes. The West New York pool offers free swimming daily for those enrolled in the program. From 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., the pool hosts a “senior hour” where senior citizens can swim without children in the water. “This time gives the children a chance to relax without children playing in the water,” said DeSocio. Adult Tai chi classes will also be offered in August. The classes are held in the senior citizens buildings and at the recreation center. The Mothers Helping Mothers program allows parents to also get involved with the summer recreation program. This program allows toddlers, ages 1 to 5, to interact with other toddlers under their mother’s supervision. Mothers also can play games with other mothers and their children, or baby-sit. The recreation program is spread out across the town. Besides the Joseph Coviello Recreation Center, programs take place in all of the city’s parks including Donnelly Park, St. Mary’s Park and Fillmore Park. Memorial High School and Public School No. 1 also house some programs. “This program keeps kids off the streets and also puts some money in their pockets,” said DeSocio. Sires added, “The kids are happy when they have a summer league to go to.” The program runs from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and includes lunch and snacks for the kids. For more information or to enroll, call the Recreation Department at 295-5080.


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