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Neighbors Organize Free Fitness and Art Classes for Corona Kindergarten

By Katie Honan | February 24, 2014 7:43am
 The programs will start soon for kindergarten students at P.S. 330.
The programs will start soon for kindergarten students at P.S. 330.
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DNAinfo/Katie Honan

CORONA — A fitness camp and an art and storytelling program are heading to a kindergarten class on Northern Boulevard, thanks to the school's neighbors.

The free programs will start in March for kindergarten students at P.S 330, according to creator Regina Bernard.

Bernard, 37, an assistant professor of black and Latino studies at Baruch College, and her husband Ricardo Carreno, 39, a former Marine and personal trainer, decided to get involved in teaching local children after realizing there weren't many options for free or low-cost programs in Corona.

"For these kids in this neighborhood, the school doesn't even have a completed backyard yet," Bernard said, noting that Corona also lacks some of the programming offered in nearby Jackson Heights. 

Bernard and Carreno, who have two young children not in school yet, live down the block from the school, which opened in September.

Both the Wednesday afternoon fitness camp and the Saturday morning storytelling and art class will run for about 10 weeks and be open to current kindergarten students at P.S. 330. They will be held in the school's gym.

Bernard and Carreno approached the school's principal, Lashawna Harris, earlier this month about creating the programs to support students' literacy and fitness.

Harris "loved it," Bernard said, and sign-ups will start on Feb. 26.

The fitness camp will teach students about working out and improving their reading and writing skills with creative fitness games, she said.

Carreno designed large flashcards that feature an illustration of a piece of fruit, a letter that goes along with that fruit and a physical activity — allowing kids to learn about healthy eating while also getting exercise.

"That game is one of the things that we've been working to create," Bernard said.

They also hope to introduce students to old school New York City street games like handball, hopscotch and double Dutch, which are personal favorites of Bernard, who grew up in Hell's Kitchen.

The Saturday morning art and storytelling program will allow students to get creative through art and literacy.

"It's really about children listening to stories but also learning new vocabulary to use," she said.

The hands-on art program will be related to the story, but will let kids get "messy" and creative with their masterpieces.

Both programs will have assistance from Bernard's Baruch College students, who are taking a class on inner-city issues.

"Students are studying inequality as it relates to race and class," she said. "This lets them put in some hours of service into a community that's not their own."

The class is beginning a fundraiser to buy art supplies, and healthy snacks for both programs will be provided by Bernard's block association.

Both programs are part of a larger goal of bringing more programs to Corona, Bernard said.

"My dream is to get the whole neighborhood organized," she said.