Staff at Williamsbridge took advantage of students’ mid-winter recess to throw a belated Valentine’s Day Party for students in Williamsbridge Recreation and Early Childhood Education Center. During school breaks, HFH K-12 Afterschool & Recreation programs adjust into a full-day program to accommodate parents’ schedules.
The Williamsbridge Wolverines expressed universal delight at the their extended Recreation hours. “I like playing with my friends during my week off of school,” said Chelsea, age 6, who noted that Recreation provides plenty of opportunities to participate in some of her favorite activities, like coloring. Her friend Chloe, age 5, likewise expressed her appreciation for Williamsbridge Recreation, noting, “I like to do games. I come to Recreation because I like to play a lot.”
Eager to express his own favorite activities, Noel, age 10, declared his talent for the digital piano he learned to play using a computer at Recreation.
Williamsbridge education programming is tailored for children of all ages. Our Early Childhood Education Centers cater to our youngest residents, under the age of four, with full-day year-round educational programming. Williamsbridge Recreation provides after-school programming to all school-aged children.
“A Valentine is somebody you love,” said Chelsea. “Valentine’s Day is cool to me because you get to do fun things with your mom and dad. You can give your mom and dad stuff.”
This year, Chelsea’s cited her Valentines as her family, friends, this member of the HFH Communications Team, and her boyfriend Ian.
“You can love many people,” she explained.
Chloe was equally excited for the Valentine’s Day celebration, noting that on Valentine’s Day, “…you give people chocolate and they give you flowers.”
The party kicked off with two art activities. Many of the older students created their own colorful scratch-off Valentine’s Day cards. Other students, the youngest with the help of Williamsbridge staff, took turns pouring multicolored sand into DIY small heart-shaped necklaces.
Then, Stephanie Guzman, Education Coordinator at Williamsbridge, encouraged the students to get on their feet for a series of Valentine’s Day games. The first was a relay race using pink balloons, which the students took turns shepherding between their ankles. The next was a game reminiscent of Simon Says called “XOXO.” Students had to accurately make a hand signal for “X” or “O” depending upon whether Guzman called out “hugs” or “kisses.” The final activity a Valentine’s Day candy race, in which the two teams had to scoop from two bowls of candy and transport it to their teams’ bowls. The team with the largest accumulation of candy was the winner.
The Valentine’s Day festivities were entirely age-inclusive, from four-year-olds in Williamsbridge Early Childhood Education Center to teenagers in Williamsbridge Recreation. At times, this compelled staff to offer special support to the smaller Wolverines competing. The older students didn’t seem to mind — many of the younger students express obvious glee when they’re able to attend program with the big kids, who they look up to as role models, which the older students happily embrace.
The party ended with a group dinner plus Valentine’s Day-themed cupcakes and goodie bags. The event was only the first of the activities Williamsbridge Recreation had planned for the kids’ week off from school. To celebrate their themes of the month, Black History Month and Environmental Sustainability, the Williamsbridge Wolverines had plans later in the week learn about single-use swaps and Carl Anthony, the founder of Breakthrough Communities, a project dedicated to building multiracial leadership for sustainable communities.