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Inner-City Kids Experience Nature in Rye

RYE, N.Y. -- Kaylynn Figueroa is used to seeing apartment buildings and car-packed streets living in East Harlem, but wildlife and woodlands are a whole new experience for her.

"We saw a deer," exclaimed Kaylynn, 8, who went on a nature hike in Rye for the first time Monday.

For two weeks in August, the Rye Nature Center is providing educational programming for children living in New York City who come from economically challenged households.

The children get to explore the 47 acres of forest the center sits on through guided activities that give them an opportunity to learn about nature by experiencing it firsthand.

"It’s really part of our mission, to make nature accessible to kids who don’t have access to it,” said Christine Siller, executive director of the center. “They get to go to the zoo, but this is something else. It’s hands-on and immersive.”

This year the center has been able to fund programming for about 100 children from four different schools in New York City, two more schools than the previous year. Running the program for two weeks costs $30,000 at $300 a child, which was raised through private donations to the Inner-City Scholarship Fund .

“It has really expanded,” Siller said of the program. “Where it goes in the future will depend on interest from the community.”

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