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Fresh Air Children look forward to swimming, making friendships

By NICOLE PITT

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Sixteen children representing all five New York City boroughs will call Greater Utica home for the next 9 to 14 days. It's all part of the Fresh Air Fund.

The bus full of anxious children arrived Tuesday afternoon to the parking lot at Riverside Center where they met with their host families.

For some of these kids, it's a summer tradition. "There are children who have come eight times and they are returning a little bit taller from last summer and enjoying seeing the same host family again," said Jessica Poyer, a volunteer with the Fresh Air Fund.

David Levy is visiting the area from The Bronx. Levy is normally surrounded by tall buildings. He will be staying with a host family in Boonville. He is excited to experience nature firsthand. "Here it's like not that much buildings," said Levy. "It's more grass and trees and stuff like that. I'm excited to see deers and animals and jaguars and something like that."

Well, we're not so sure we can promise him jaguars, but there are some things David will definitely be able to do. "I'm looking forward to learning new things like baseball and I want to swim in that pool that they have."

It's the first time hosting for the Fouse family from Lowville. They are hosting Imanie Jean-Pierre from Brooklyn. Benjamin and Stephanie Fouse say their two children Grace and Luke had many questions about their house guest. "They've been asking questions all the way down and they've been talking about what we're going to do together and where everybody is going to sleep and what everybody is going to look like," said Stephanie Fouse.

Imanie says she normally doesn't do much outdoors in the summertime, but she really wants to go swimming and says she is looking forward to getting to know her host family. "We haven't told Imanie all of the things we have planned but we're going to have a big party with all of our neighbors. We're going to have a pig roast and we're going to go swimming hopefully at some point," said Stephanie Fouse.

"It's a really rewarding experience," said Poyer, who has been hosting a child for the past 7 years. "It's a way to show your kids that the world is larger than just your home and how important it is to open up your home to other people."

The Fresh Air Fund is also bringing another group of children to town next month and they are still looking for host families. If you are interested you can apply online at http://www.freshair.org/

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