Program Gives City Kids a Breath of "Fresh Air"

By: Sarah Batista
By: Sarah Batista

July 8, 2005

An eight-year-old from New York City is temporarily calling Central Virginia his home, and the little boy's visit, is a breath of "Fresh Air."

"Instead of looking up at tall trees, he looks at tall buildings and [traffic]," said Eli Connell, a Fresh Air Fund host.

For eight-year-old Deshon Garrison, a native of Brooklyn, New York, Fluvanna County is far from home. For the second summer, Deshon is spending two weeks with a host family as part of the Fresh Air Fund program. The program gives inner city kids a free chance to explore more rural areas. For Deshon, the experience has been eye-opening.

"There's lots of trees, lots of nature," said Deshon.

"I like how he's amazed with everything, he [looks up] at the trees because he thinks there so big," said Connell.

Although the Brown family's home and spacious backyard is far different from the 6-floor apartment Deshon shares with his four siblings, they're not what has taken the most adjustment.

"The first year it was a little bit interesting because it was a completely different experience for him, he was so afraid of bugs and the dog," said Jackie Brown, Deshon's host mom.

But Deshon is no longer afraid. Since then, he has learned how to swim, ride a bike, and play board games, and because he's learned so much, Deshon has a few things of his own he'd like to teach them in return.

"How to jump doubledutch and turn, teach them how to dance," he explained.

Log on to http://www.freshair.org/ for more information on how to become a Fresh Air Fund host.


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