BRINGING COMMUNITIES TOGETHER: Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena and North Providence Mayor Charles Lombardi join other community leaders and program participants in celebrating the dedication of new picnic tables at Cricket Field.
(SUN RISE PHOTOS BY TIM FORSBERG)
By Tim Forsberg
Thanks to the efforts of the North Providence Kids Klub Hasbro Summer Learning Initiative Program, Cricket Field in Johnston now looks better than ever.
The North Providence School Department and Kids Klub provide a fun summer learning experience for about 60 students from grades four through six. At a culminating event held at the park a few weeks ago, members of the program held a walkathon, explained what they learned through their experiences, showcased their park cleanup efforts and dedicated two picnic tables that they decorated.
“This year’s program had an ocean theme which we picked last year,” said Jayden Ortiz, a program participant. “We went to different classes and we learned stuff like visualizing, writing and engineering. We also did lots of team building exercises.”
During the summer the group took field trips to Mystic Aquarium, Casey Farm, Save the Bay and took trips the beach. They went to local libraries and pools to celebrate, and Hasbro also did skits for the children as part of the program.
An important component of the summer program was their service learning project. This year they chose to adopt Cricket Field because it is next to the Woonasquatucket River. The students wanted to ensure that the park remained clean and that trash doesn’t end up in the river. The Woonasquatucket serves as a vital lifeline for both fresh and saltwater fish, birds and plants.
Eva, a young participant who performed in a play exploring the theme, said that “The play taught us about the ocean animals.”
“The play taught us about teamwork and responsibility,” added her friend Isabella.
The children spread the word about their walkathon throughout the community, which began at Greystone Elementary School and ended at Cricket Field. They used the walk to raise funds for the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council. The children also had a bake sale and back to school sale to raise funds and awareness.
“We wanted to warn people about the effects of water pollution,” said Armani, another program participant.
The donated picnic tables were designed, drawn and painted by the participants, who then donated them to Cricket Field. Through their efforts, the students raised $662 for the WRWC, a nonprofit that supports the restoration and preservation of the river as an environmental, recreational and economic asset of the state.
“This is so exciting, I think today was an amazing day because it’s exciting to see both Mayor Joseph Polisena and Mayor Charles Lombardi coming together and being excited about all the improvements being made to the park,” said Lisa Aurecchia, director of projects at the WRWC. “It’s fun to see the collaboration and the kids are here, and they’re really excited about donating the picnic tables.”
While the program is geared towards North Providence students, Johnston Superintendent Dr. Bernard DiLullo saw future opportunities for Johnston’s students.
“I think it’s a great program, they did a really nice job in terms of conservation. We’ve actually had a discussion with the United Way about doing the same thing in Johnston, so we’re thinking about doing this next summer,” said DiLullo during the ceremony. “It’s a summer program that’s project-based so they learn by doing instead of just sitting in a classroom.”
Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena and North Providence Mayor Charles Lombardi, both on hand for the dedication, were pleased with the students’ efforts and the collaboration across city lines.
“This is great; the good thing is they recognize that there’s a field here plus the river here, so I think it’s great for the kids. They really worked hard, as you see the picnic tables are beautiful and it’s something that the place didn’t have,” said Polisena. “To see all the children here, and they are our future, and they need to know the importance of the park, hopefully this brings them out to play.”
“The best part of this is that both communities are involved. I think that when there’s a program available and we can involve more than one community, what’s better than that, especially with North Providence and Johnston,” said Lombardi. “For the kids to enjoy this facility, especially that they’ve adopted this watershed which is in our communities, I think is magnificent and I want to commend everyone involved especially the Kids Klub organization, they do a great job for the kids.”