By Katherine Druback
Four-year-old Briyana Gomez didn’t make a very fierce tiger, but she made a happy one, as she proudly showed off her painted face and the star mask she made at the Sept. 18 street fair on Manida Street between Lafayette and Spofford avenues.
Sponsored by Hunts Point Alliance for Children and Sustainable South Bronx, the fair combined two annual events—the Alliance’s Back to School Fair and the environmental organization’s “Living with the Trees” Block Party.
The event brought parents information about local schools, promoted environmental awareness, offered health information and testing and included fun activities for children, as well as numerous giveaways.
“I had a fun time today,” Briyana said. Her mother Melissa Bido was able to pick up free jean skirts, books, school supplies and fresh fruit to take home.
“It’s beneficial to everyone in the community. It’s something fun for the kids to do this weekend,” said Bido, “It was very helpful, providing school supplies to families.”
Nivia Alamo lives down the street and attended the block party last year. This year, she brought her daughter Tylynn and niece Evelesse Ramos to the event. The girls picked out the design they wanted painted on their faces, while Alamo discussed how the fair provides both information about the community and “fun times” for the children.
“Hunts Point is a very poor community. A lot of people don’t know information and the help that is out there,” said Carmen Rodriguez, a volunteer with the Hunts Point Alliance for Children.
Rodriguez also answered parents’ questions about P.S. 48, where she serves as president of the PTA, and told them of new initiatives at the school, including Jump Start, an early literacy program targeting three- and four-year-old children.
Joining the sponsors to provide food and activities, along with information about in-school and after-school programs, health education, and environmental issues were City Year, Build On, the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the City Health Department, Jump Start, The Point CDC and Urban Health Plan.
“The goal is to start off the school year right,” said Mayanne Hedda, managing director of Hunts Point Alliance for Children.
The effort succeeded, said Merarie Ramerez, who had Seneca Soler Jr. and Mariah Alvarez in tow. As Seneca proudly showed off his Yankees mask and Mariah showed off the butterfly painted on her face, Ramerez, a first-time visitor to the fair, said it “helps keep parents informed and helps provide information in a fun way.”