Close to 300 Hudson County children visited the Bruce D. Walter Recreation Center on April 27 in Union City to celebrate “El Dia de los Ninos” (The Day of the Children) Celebrating Young Americans day.
The holiday is observed on April 30, set aside to value and uplift Latino children and all children in the United States.
The Girl Scout Council of Greater Essex and Hudson Counties presented the annual day on April 27 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
According to Raafiah Odom, the director of membership and marketing for the Girl Scouts, this is a day to increase the understanding of Latino culture and history.
The event was hosted in partnership with North Hudson Community Corporation and was funded through a $5,000 grant from the United Way of Hudson County.
Children’s Day was first celebrated in 1997 after The First National Summit on Young Latinos was held in San Antonio, Texas in September 1996. It was there that the people attending the summit requested a holiday.
In 1999, the Girl Scouts of the United States of America collaborated with the National Latino Children’s Institute, a youth serving organization, to celebrate Children’s Day.
Girl Scouting is dedicated to inspiring girls with the highest ideals of character, conduct, patriotism and service.
The Girl Scout Council of Greater Essex and Hudson Counties first began celebrating the day last year at the Union City Recreation Center.
Recruitment and fun
Although this day is used to help recruit new Scouts, it is also a day of fun for the children that attend.
“I brought my girls here last year and it was a lot of fun for them,” said Union City resident Doris Tantalean, who was following her twin daughters Karina and Jessenia, both 6, to the next craft table.
Different arts and crafts tables were set up for children to participate. They were able to make masks, pinwheels, beaded necklaces and other crafts.
Another table asking children to write down one of their future goals on a large puzzle piece was also set up. According to Jan Lilien, the executive director of the Girl Scout Council of Greater Essex and Hudson Counties, these goals will be put together to make several large puzzles of the children’s goals.
Older Girl Scout members in Hudson County or parent volunteers manned each table.
“We get to help out with activities like this where we can help out younger kids,” said 13-year-old Loidy Paula, a Girl Scout in Jersey City, who was manning a table set up to help kids make pinwheels out of construction paper and pencils.
Parent volunteers are the leaders for each troop.
“A key part of [each troop] is volunteering,” said Lilien. “We can’t serve kids unless there are adults to provide supervision and guidance.”
Lilien said that the council provides parents with training and initial activities to organize their troop.
Forming a new troop
Union City resident Amanda DeLeon, 10, said that she would be interested in joining a Girl Scout troop if there was one nearby. There are already a large number of troops organized in Hudson County, including 10 in Union City, six in North Bergen, four in Guttenberg, four in Weehawken, and seven in Hoboken.
Jessica Diaz, who works to organize new troops for the Council, said that four new troops just opened in West New York.
Tantalean said that she wanted to ask for information about different troops in the area.
According to Lilien, there are 9,000 girls involved in scouting in the Girl Scout Council of Greater Essex and Hudson counties, and 300 girls in the North Hudson County area, which includes Union City, West New York, North Bergen and Weehawken.
“A troop can have six girls or 30 girls,” said Lilien, adding that events like last week’s give the council a feel for where there is a need for a new troop.
However, if there is not a troop organized in your area, the council also plans summer camps or programs in the area for the young girls.
For information on how to join a troop, organize a new troop or to become a parent volunteer, call (201) 656-1440.