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Neighbor to Neighbor

When we first began talking about holding our Going Green in Queens event at a special meeting of the Queens Coalition of Parks and Green Spaces, it sounded as if it would be a great opportunity to educate attendees myself included. Recently, I have begun wondering if there are others like myself who feel, as the years go by, that there is still much to learn. Going Green in Queens did not disappoint.

The City Parks Foundation has been prominent in our volunteer work for many years. In fact, Partnership for Parks, with whom we work closely and regularly, is a joint program of the CPF and city Parks Department. These outreach folks lead us in our annual It's My Park! Day and encourage group interaction. The CPF "is the only independent, nonprofit organization to offer park programs throughout the five boroughs of New York City," according to www.MillionTreesNYC.com, part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's PlaNYC initiative.

Some of the free summer programs range from free arts, sports and education programs. Children between 6 and 16 who are interested in golf can have free use of equipment in the two eight-lesson sessions for beginner- and intermediate-level players held in 19 public parks. This program assists children interested in trying out for the CityParks Junior Golf Academy.

CityParks Tennis provides free tennis lessons for 5-year-olds to 16-year-olds in 37 parks. The program includes free beginner lessons, tournaments, leagues, excellence programs and special events.

Offered in 13 parks citywide, children between 5 and 16 have the chance to learn the basics of track and field, including hurdles, relay races, the long jump, the shot put and the javelin throw. Participating children have an opportunity to "display the basic skills learned at the end of each season at an organized track meet held at Icahn Stadium, the world class sports complex on Randall's Island," according to the CPF Web site.

In nine city parks on April 28, free tennis lessons, yoga instructions and fitness walking will be available for seniors 60 and over. Participants are encouraged to maintain regular attendance in this eight-week, twice-a-week program to maximize health benefits. For information on any of these free sports and fitness programs, visit www.CityParksFoundation.org or call the city Parks Department at 718-760-6999.

The CPF also makes possible arts and cultural programs, not only in parks but in schools, in recreation centers and at their Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre in Central Park. There are professional dancers, musicians, storytellers and puppeteers. For schedule information, visit the above Web site or call 212-360-8290; the marionette theater can be contacted by calling the Central Park Conservancy at 212-988-9093. Note that there is a $5 charge for children and an $8 one for adults for the marionette theater.

Check the CPF site in June or call the CPF at 212-360-8290 for the CityParks Concerts schedules for July and August. These concerts including salsa, jazz, reggae, gospel and hip-hop will take place free in 36 parks.

The Charlie Parker Jazz Festival will be held in Marcus Garvey and Tompkins Square parks after July 15. Please check the above Web site or call the CPF after that date for information.

CityParks Dance gives free dance performances and dance classes in city parks. For programs and schedule information, check the CPF Web site or call the CPF.

CityParks Theater is an annual event where the CPF will work with several high-quality community theater groups to offer performances and hands-on workshops for adults and children. Check the CPF Web site or call the CPF for more information. For the Central Park SummerStage music season, visit www.SummerStage.org or call 212-360-2777.

Did you know all that? And did you know New Yorkers for Parks arrange for Parks Advocacy Day, which annually offers park users an opportunity to meet their City Council members to discuss your park concerns?

Their Natural Areas Initiative is their joint program with the Audubon Society that promotes protection of irreplaceable natural resources. Their vital work on the Daffodil Project has thus far helped distribute about 3 million daffodil bulbs with the city Parks Department for volunteers to plant in memory of those who died on Sept. 11. They also have a Community Design Program which helps underserved communities redesign or create parks or open spaces. For more information, go to www.ny4p.org.

There will be more to follow on Going Green in Queens.

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