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New Haven summer programs offer kids fun in the sun and ways to stem learning loss

Children playing on a playground.  The group of friends excitedly run toward the next outdoor activity.
fstop123 / Getty Images
A group of friends excitedly run toward the next outdoor activity on a playground. New Haven youth can look forward to a summer of events right in their neighborhood.

Children in New Haven can look forward to an event-filled summer. And they won't have to travel very far.

The city is kicking off its summer fun and learning program, which is designed to provide engaging summer activities for the city’s children and families.

“There’s so much going on this summer to help support our young people and to help support our families across the city,” Mayor Justin Elicker said at a recent press conference.

Elicker said children need an environment to help them de-stress where they can be active and have fun. At the same time, he said, summer should be a time for students to take in some learning opportunities.

“We want to make sure that our kids continue to get exposure to math and reading because there is an academically-documented trend where students over the summer months don't have exposure to math and reading,” Elicker said. “Their test scores go down, and then they're starting the next year a little bit behind. So having that continuity over the summer and exposure is key.”

Some programs are already underway, including free basketball lessons for children ages 12 and older hosted by New Haven Youth and Recreation and New Haven athletics, called Skills in the Park. The “Find Your Voice” program for children ages 12 and under, hosted by the New Haven Free Public Library, began June 10.

The city is offering weekly summer camps for children ages 5 to 13, beginning June 26, where they will participate in age-appropriate activities. Some day camps will focus on a theme, like the Hershey Track and Field Program, which will train kids ages 6 to 18 on how to hone their track and field skills. Registration for these camps is required.

Events for the entire family are also in the works. Most Wednesdays, beginning July 12, the city’s Youth and Recreation Department will host a family fun day with free food, water, and activities from 2:30-5:30 p.m.

Students, ages 14 to 21 from New Haven Public Schools, will be able to gain work experience beginning July 5 in a youth employment program.

The mayor said he wants families to know that programs are not exclusive to New Haven kids. City officials are working to avoid barriers to entry, he said.

For children 18 and younger who aren’t participating in the summer programs but need a free meal, the city will open sites where children can access food. Sites will be updated here by the end of June.

More programs and information on summer programming is available at the Mayor’s 2023 Youth Summer Guide.

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