New Rochelle Council Member Gets Creative in Effort to Divert American Rescue Plan Act Funds to Her District

Written By: Robert Cox

NEW ROCHELLE, NY (August 21, 2022) — Council Member Sara Kaye, as part of a long game effort to divert American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to Ward Acres, which is not eligible for the federal funds, organized a “field trip” for HOPE’s STEAM Summer Program at Parkside Place on July 27.

The field trip was paid for through an ARPA grant from the City of New Rochelle an run in partnership with HOPE, the New Rochelle Department of Parks and Recreation and the Ward Acres Conservancy.

Nearly two dozen youth in grades 3-8 was part of HOPE’s new Summer STEAM program, an enrichment curriculum that exposes children to Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics as access points for guiding inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking.

  • Educational hike along former carriage trails that served the horse farm that once operated on the premises before it was turned into a park, teaching them the history of the buildings and the impact of invasive and non-native plant species
  • Making a mural of the Long Island Sound as well as making a model of a watershed to understand how Ward Acres, and the surrounding communities, are connected to Long Island Sound and can impact the water quality
  • A visit to the Ward Acres Community Garden

HOPE Community Services a local not-for-profit organization providing emergency food services, housing, children’s supportive programming and social services. The STEAM Summer Program at Parkside Place was made possible through the City’s.

What they are saying:

New Rochelle Council Member Sara Kaye: “I am thrilled HOPE Community Services can launch this new program with funding approved by the City Council. By providing a creative and engaging STEAM curriculum, the program will help achieve educational equity and address the learning losses that were caused by the pandemic. The nature field trip to Ward Acres Park was a wonderful opportunity to spark curiosity and make learning more tangible and fun. It is so important that we work to connect children to the natural spaces that are freely available in our community so that they can experience the joy and wonder of nature and gain exposure to outdoor activities, like hiking and gardening, that provide mental and physical health benefits.”

HOPE Executive Director Walter Ritz: “Finding a passion is so important for our youth. Igniting the spark that could inspire a lifetime of learning and exploration is an incredible possibility. This field trip to Ward Acres Park was a great way to expose these kids to the path where earth and science meet. If a few of these kids walk away with a curiosity about the way our planet works, then we have made an impact.”

New Rochelle Parks and Recreation Commissioner Vin Parise: “We were thrilled to host HOPE’s STEAM Summer Program at Ward Acres Park this summer. With 62 beautiful acres that include the Ward Acres Community Garden and Paws Place Dog Park, this park offers residents and youngsters endless possibilities when it comes to experiencing nature, gardening, trails, wildlife and so much more.”

Long Island Sound Study Outreach Coordinator Lillit Genovesi: “Students are always excited to learn ways that they can take care of The Sound and all the marine wildlife that live there, including harbor seals, horseshoe crabs, nudibranchs and so much more! Through our hands-on STEM activities, students can see how our actions in the watershed can impact water quality downstream and how communities can work together to build a great future for our shared coastal resources.”

Ward Acres Conservancy Co-President Joe Rogot: “We were privileged to host a wonderfully inquisitive and curious group of 3-8 graders from the Hope Community Services summer enrichment program and look forward to many more visits by local school and community groups. The purpose of the Ward Acres Conservancy is to restore and protect the ecological integrity of Ward Acres Park’s landscape and trail system, highlight its historical significance, re-envision and expand community usage with equal access for all. Providing youth the opportunity to explore and enjoy this very unique park also helps them understand the benefits and responsibilities of protecting and preserving this valuable resource.”

Ward Acres Community Garden Steering Committee Member: “What better way to combat the skyrocketing cost of food these days than to have a family member who has a green thumb. These visiting students might just be those family members.”