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August 14 , 2008

Congresswoman Velázquez Supports Programs to Educate New York City Youth About Brooklyn Waterfront

New York, NY –Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) today tested the waters of the East River and joined New York City youth as they learned about marine ecology, habitat and the history of the Brooklyn waterfront. The Congresswoman participated in the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy’s Cove Camp, an educational initiative targeting at-risk and underserved kids. She has supported the group’s youth programming and helped secure resources through the Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Programs, enabling the Conservancy to expand its educational programming.

“Brooklyn’s waterfront provides its neighbors the opportunity to interact with nature in a beautiful and evolving setting. By giving New York City kids the chance to learn about the Harbor and Brooklyn Bridge, we are teaching them about the importance of preserving the environment and opening their eyes to new educational horizons,” Congresswoman Velázquez said.

Cove Camp is facilitated by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, along with the Center for the Urban Environment, and reaches out to local public schools and free day camps to bring young people to the waterfront park. Participants become explorers of the unique ecological and historic environment of the Brooklyn waterfront. The students study the history of the Brooklyn Bridge, build model suspension bridges and compete in a scavenger hunt to learn about the effects of the bridge’s construction on the five boroughs. Moving to the natural environment, they explore the East River ecosystem and conduct water testing in The Cove. Through these activities, local youth gain an understanding of how industry helped shape the waterfront and how the impact of human construction has affected the ecosystem.

“The Conservancy is grateful for the generous support of Congresswoman Velázquez,” said Nancy Webster, Vice President of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy. “We’re looking forward to creating a year-round educational initiative that reaches out to Brooklyn public schools and free day camps to bring underserved young people to Brooklyn Bridge Park for education programs focusing on marine ecology and habitat and the history of the Brooklyn waterfront.”

The Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy conducts educational programs for local residents and youth. In addition to Cove Camp, the group’s educational project includes events and courses such as seining in the East River, birdwatching, a butterfly program and Wee Park Citizens, a hands-on education program for toddlers. The Conservancy has also created the “Green Team” stewardship program offering community service options for young people. This Fall, the Conservancy will work with local public schools to begin educational programming in Brooklyn Bridge Park during the school year. The Conservancy expects to serve 4,500 young people within the first three years of its expanded educational initiative.

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About the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy
The Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy (www.brooklynbridgepark.org) has worked for twenty years to ensure the creation, adequate funding, proper maintenance, public support, and citizen enjoyment of Brooklyn Bridge Park through partnership with the public sector, development of programming, and active promotion of the needs of the park and its constituents. Since 2000, more than a quarter of a million visitors have enjoyed the Conservancy’s free, public programs in the beginnings of Brooklyn Bridge Park.