Summer is the Best Time to Play S.A.F.E.

A New Brunswick summer program has kids even more excited for sunshine, freedom and break from school!

For more than 25 years, Play S.A.F.E. (Summer Activities For Everyone) has served as a free summer program for New Brunswick children, providing nutrition, tutoring, physical activity and adventure throughout New Brunswick and the State.

Play S.A.F.E. runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays from June 26 to August 4, flowing with activities from start to finish. City kids get both in-and out-of-town experiences from swimming in local pools and playing in our parks to visiting museums, parks and cultural centers Statewide.

Every Play S.A.F.E. child is fed a meal daily through the Federal Summer Food Service Program.

Between physical activities, day trips and busy mealtimes, Play S.A.F.E. campers and staff stay busy for the entire six-week period.

Director of Youth Social Services Dave Blevins’ favorite, fun aspect of Play S.A.F.E., however, is the Play S.A.F.E. Gala, in which a number of kids stage performances for their families and counselors.

“It’s fun for the kids and they love the dance, art and music aspects – especially in front of their parents,” he said.

Kids between the ages of 6-12 years old can be registered by a parent or guardian by filling out an application at any of the elementary schools. Applications are also available at the Mayor’s Office in City Hall, the New Brunswick Free Public Library and the HUB Teen Center. When applying, parents should specify the preferred location for their child to attend Play S.A.F.E.

Application time is known by program staff to be the “craziest time of year” according to Blevins and his Assistant Director of Youth Social Services, Ivan Adorno.

Adorno himself attended New Brunswick recreation programming and Play S.A.F.E. while growing up, so his connection and passion for New Brunswick’s youth plays a big part in his work.

Adorno’s connection to the program is not unusual – 60 percent of Play S.A.F.E. staffers are City residents.

The local importance has grown strong with community and University partnerships. Play S.A.F.E.’s relationship with Rutgers Against Hunger (RAH) has yielded thousands of snack packs for participants to take home. Play S.A.F.E. also provides breakfast to other summer programs and partners like Youth Empowerment Services (YES), the Civic League of Greater New Brunswick and PRAB.

The program has been recognized with numerous awards, such as last summer’s recognition from the New Jersey State Department of Agriculture.

“Play S.A.F.E. is not something you really describe,” Adorno laughed. “You have to experience it.”

Summer is a time for sunshine and cloudless skies, but it’s also the best time for kids to Play SAFE!

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