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NYC Kids to Arrive in Maine in Fresh Air Program

Fifteen children from New York City will be arriving for a summer vacation in Maine next week as part of a 140-year-old program.

The Fresh Air Fund was started in 1877 as a way to get children away from crowded, smoggy cities at a time when tuberculosis was rampant. Today, it’s a chance for kids accustomed to subways, city buses and pavement to enjoy green trees, the seashore and open spaces.

Samantha Brink of Biddeford, who chairs the southern Maine branch of the program, says from the time she was about 2 years old, her own family served as a host family for Fresh Air kids.

“Every summer we had somebody, all growing up,” she says. “So it’s something that’s personally very, very meaningful to me because I know how impactful it can be from a kid’s side of it.”

Brink says spending summers with kids from the city was an important lesson in diversity for her, as well as a chance for the visiting kids to experience Maine life.

The 15 children, arriving July 13, range in age from 7 to 18 and will spend about two weeks with host families.

The Fresh Air Fund sends 1.8 million low-income children to spend vacations away from the city each summer.