HAMILTON HEIGHTS — Free weekly pop-up libraries and street games for children are coming to Hamilton Heights, East Harlem, and the South Bronx for the next two months.
On a different street within those neighborhoods, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., the block will be converted into a play area for neighborhood kids, said Leslie Davol, cofounder of the Uni Project, the nonprofit setting up the libraries this week.
“The whole street is blocked off for physical play, there are kids hula-hooping and playing basketball right next to us when we are reading,” she said.
The Uni Project teamed up with Harvest Home, a Harlem-based organization that organizes farmer's markets in the neighborhood. Together they create safe, car-free spaces for children to be active and play outside, said Tunisia Armstrong, the Play Street Coordinator for Harvest Home.
This summer's Street Play program kicked off Tuesday at Broadway and 137th Street.
On Wednesdays they will be at Forest Avenue and East 156th Street in the Bronx. On Thursdays they set up shop at 104th Street and Lexington Avenue and on Saturdays they go back to The Bronx on Morrison Avenue Plaza at Westchester Ave in Soundview.
Kids can play basketball, hula hoop, draw with chalk, and grab a book to read. Volunteers from the New York Public Library contribute by hosting read aloud sessions throughout the day.
Harvest Homes additionally partners up with other organizations to bring more programs to the street. This year they are hosting free bike riding demos and art classes from El Museo Del Bario, Armstrong said.
“We heard that a lot of the schools these children go to had their art program cut so we thought it would be great for them to learn how to draw and express themselves,” Armstrong added.